News Release

ISMP Encourages Adoption of Medication Error Reduction Plans

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is sharing its support for California’s Medication Error Reduction Plan (MERP) initiative in the hope that hospital regulators and accreditors, if not U.S. hospitals themselves, will voluntarily adopt similar programs.

ISMP has always been an advocate for learning from the experiences of others. Since 2002, the California Department of Public Health has required every licensed general, acute care hospital to establish a MERP. The CA MERP provides a framework to advance many of the error reduction strategies that ISMP has advocated for and supported, including:

  • Maintaining a robust medication error reporting system

  • Interdisciplinary teams analyzing medication risks and errors

  • Carefully planned technology implementation

  • Effective and timely use of measurable assessments to evaluate the impact of selective error-reduction strategies

  • A proactive approach to risk identification analysis

  • Use of external information to improve medication safety

  • Annual review of the strategic plan to reduce medication errors

“While ISMP realizes that resources and expertise are necessary to design and execute a robust MERP, these efforts can significantly improve safety,” says ISMP President Rita K. Jew, PharmD, MBA, BCPPS, FASHP. “We encourage hospitals and health systems working outside of CA to complete a gap analysis using the framework and develop a formal MERP that focuses on high-leverage systems and technologies to improve high-alert medication processes.”

To oversee the CA MERP, each organization must designate an interdisciplinary medication safety committee comprised of pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and administrators. Coordination of the committee’s activities by a medication safety officer (MSO) is highly recommended.

For more information on ISMP’s Medication Safety Officer Society (MSOS), which offers an open forum for information sharing and collaboration, visit: Medication Safety Officers Society- MSOS | ( To access a copy of ISMP’s white paper on MSOs, go to: A Recurring Call to Action: Every Healthcare Organization Needs a Medication Safety Officer! | Institute For Safe Medication Practices (

For a detailed summary of the required components in each hospital’s CA MERP, sample self assessment questions, and examples of initiatives organizations could implement as part of their own programs, visit: California Medication Error Reduction Plan: Time for Regulators and Accreditors to Adopt Similar Initiatives | Institute For Safe Medication Practices (

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