Medication Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What Have We Learned in the United States?


A lot has been learned in the United States about medication safety compromises made during the COVID-19 pandemic. The usual independent double checks during medication preparation and dosing were often compromised. Hospital order processing was often undertaken by pharmacists working at home, not in the hospital pharmacy. The use of unproven medications for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19 occurred, which sometimes sickened patients unnecessarily.  Oddly, to reduce nurse exposure to COVID-19 patients due to personal protective equipment shortages, some hospitals kept ICU patient infusion pumps outside of patient rooms by using extension tubing. These and other medication safety issues, many of which have global significance, will be detailed by ISMP staff during this one-hour international call. Learn how and why these and many other changes were made, and where we will go from here.

Learning Objectives:

Following Completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Detail specific medication safety issues that arose in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic that might have global significance.

  2. Identify drug shortages that arose and how they were handled in the US hospitals.

  3. Provide information about necessary safety compromises made along with a surge of patient admissions to US Intensive Care Units. 


Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), FASHP, President, ISMP

Allison Hanson, PharmD, BCPS, International Medication Safety Management Fellow, ISMP

Nistha Shah, PharmD, International Medication Safety Management Fellow, ISMP

This activity is supported by Novartis.

CE Accreditation

No continuing education credits are available for this activity.


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