Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to audit the use of three strategies for protecting hospital inpatients with allergies: red allergy wristbands for patients with allergies; white identification wristbands for all patients; and completion of an “allergy box” on drug charts. The paper also aims to assess the impact of making pharmacists responsible for ensuring allergy box completion. Design/methodology/approach – The setting was The Whittington Hospital, London, a district general hospital. Two cross‐sectional studies were conducted 11 months apart, before and after pharmacists were made responsible for ensuring allergy box completion. The studies involved 186 (pre‐intervention) and 250 (post‐intervention) unselected adult patients. Findings – The proportion of blank allergy boxes decreased significantly from 24.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent ( p <0.001) when pharmacists were made responsible for ensuring allergy box completion. The most common reason for blank allergy boxes in both studies was that doctors sought and documented allergies in the notes but then forgot to complete the allergy box. Although the proportion of patients lacking allergy wristbands was less in the second study compared with the first (30.4 v. 44.8 per cent, respectively), the difference was not significant ( p =0.206). Similarly, the second study showed a non‐significant decrease in the proportion of patients lacking identification wristbands from 12.9 per cent to 10.8 per cent ( p =0.499). Practical implications – A formal checking system is required for allergy and identification wristbands to improve use of these basic, inexpensive measures for preventing drug errors. Originality/value – The paper shows that making pharmacists responsible for ensuring allergy status documentation on drug charts significantly increased use of this safety measure.
Clinical Governance: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 25, 2008
Keywords: Patients; Auditing; Governance; Quality; Risk management; Safety
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