Blog Post

What Medication Safety Means to an ISMP International Medication Safety Fellow

Myungsun (Sunny) Ro, 2021-2022 ISMP International Medication Safety Management Fellow

With the completion of my ISMP International Medication Safety Management Fellowship fast approaching, I have gained a valuable perspective over the past year and a chance to reflect on what medication safety means to me.

Previously as a student pharmacist, I had categorized medication safety in simple terms of adverse events, relating to “safety and efficacy” of pharmacotherapy. It was not until my PGY1 pharmacy practice residency and ISMP fellowship that I learned about voluntary error reporting and trigger tools, safety strategies implemented throughout the medication-use process, and various system-wide efforts to improve medication safety and minimize potential for errors.

Medication safety, to me, is a priority that should be embraced by all interconnected sectors and levels of healthcare reaching the patient:

  • Patients should be empowered and educated on their care.

  • Healthcare providers should be made aware of existing risks and supported to actively partake in improvement efforts (eg. voluntary error reporting)

  • Administration and management should strive to foster a top-down culture of safety and prioritize tangible measures to proactively (and retrospectively) prevent harm

  • Regulatory agencies should encourage open communication with the practitioners and set policies to enforce effective policies

  • Pharmaceutical companies have the obligation to manufacture safe medications and continuously monitor for adverse events

  • Device, information, and technology vendors need to be mindful of human factors that play a significant role in medication errors and strive to create the most optimal, safe, and user-friendly products.

Above all, I have learned through my year-long fellowship at ISMP that medication safety efforts do not – and should not- end at home, one facility or hospital, or even one country. It is a nation-wide and world-wide prerogative that should remain a top healthcare priority. As the International Medication Safety Management Fellow, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about medication errors that are occurring in other regions of the world, participate in various collective safety efforts despite cultural and practice differences, and share our wins and challenges within the international medication safety organizations such as the International Medication Safety Network (IMSN) and the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP).

Together we have SO MUCH to learn from each other and progress toward the safer use of medications.

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