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In the zone at WBAMC's inpatient wards

Usa Thompson, staff nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, measures medication while donning a visual aid designed to limit interactions and distractions while administering medications. Inpatient Wards at WBAMC implemented distraction-free designated times and other initiatives to proactively combat potential for error in missed or incorrect medications. (U.S. Army photo by Marcy Sanchez) Usa Thompson, staff nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, measures medication while donning a visual aid designed to limit interactions and distractions while administering medications. Inpatient Wards at WBAMC implemented distraction-free designated times and other initiatives to proactively combat potential for error in missed or incorrect medications. (U.S. Army photo by Marcy Sanchez)

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WILLIAM BEAUMONT ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Texas — Operations in an inpatient ward can get demanding. Nurses tend to multiple patients at a time, update physicians on conditions and oversee all needs of a patient from housekeeping to entertainment.

Because of the heavy load on nurses, inpatient wards have proactively implemented a distraction-free designated time properly dubbed, Medzone, to administer medications to patients in an effort to reduce the potentially missed or wrong doses and other risks to patient safety during their stay. 

“We collected some data to see if interruptions were occurring in other nursing inpatient units and found they were occurring 20 percent of the time,” said Army Maj. Maria Pescatore, clinical nurse specialist, Surgical Ward, WBAMC. “We started a pilot on WBAMC’s Surgical and Medical Wards and created a bilingual brochure as part of our admission packet to the patient. When inpatients (are admitted), they will read it and understand our medication times to minimize distractions to our nurses.”

Aside from designating times to distribute medications, being in the zone also calls for visual and audible cues to alert patients, visitors and other staff members to limit interactions with nurses in the zone. Other changes included limiting staff allowed in the medication rooms at one time, and educating an array of staff members from housekeeping staff to hospital leaders. 

“We reviewed the process, and all the points in between to determine solutions to eliminate distractors,” said Army Maj. Tammy Fugere, clinical nurse specialist, Medical Ward.. “Hopefully patients will realize that this is for their safety and care.” 

A nurse is considered “in the zone” at any time medications are delivered to patients. The hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. are the times when medications are distributed the most. Nurses focus on strictly administering medications to all patients requiring them. The zone is all-inclusive including interdisciplinary team members and is announced over the intercom to raise awareness of the MedZone and allow nurses to administer all required medications. 

“We wanted to change our process to improve the overall safety of our patients,” said Army Lt. Col. Sarah Huml, compliance officer, Department of Nursing. “Part of that education process included individuals learning to adhere to protocol.” 

According to Pescatore, the program is being discussed in other areas where medication is given out throughout the days such as the Intensive Care Unit, Maternal Child Health and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. The nature of operations in those units presents a different challenge than inpatient wards but expanding resources such as increased medication documentation and co-locating supplies with medications. 

“We want the patient and their families to know that during that hour nurses are administering meds to not only their family member but also to other patients,” said Pescatore. “Our ultimate goal is to decrease the potential for error. It’s for the safety of our patients.” 

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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