17 Jan 2019

Why you should carry a Drug Guide on your smartphone

A Johns Hopkins University study conducted in 2016 reveals that medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States, following heart disease and cancer. Some common examples of medical errors are: incorrect diagnosis, providing multiple drugs that interact negatively, and administering the wrong medication to the wrong patient.

A medical error can happen due to:

  • Inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis of a disease/injury
  • Error in judgment or patient care
  • Poor communication
  • Unknown new procedures
  • Complex care
  • Extremes of age
  • Inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios
  • Prescribing wrong medicines
  • Mix-ups with the dosages or types of medications given to patients
  • Powerful drugs
  • Systemic defects
  • Complicated technologies
  • Undiagnosed surgical complications
  • Healthcare professional’s burnout
  • Variations in healthcare provider training and experience
  • Incorrect documentation
  • Inadequately skilled staff
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Spelling errors
  • Medical abbreviations and
  • Drug names that sound alike and medications that look alike

These types of medical errors are preventable if clinicians and caregivers follow the proper medication processes and protocols with the utmost of care and perfection. To ensure medication safety, healthcare practitioners should follow the “Five Rights of Medication Administration” that are:

  1. Right Drug
  2. (to the) Right Patient
  3. (in the) Right Dose
  4. (by the) Right Route
  5. (at the) Right Time

But it is also important to note that human factors and system weaknesses contribute to medical errors. Preventing medical error is, in itself, a Herculean task for both new and experienced healthcare practitioners. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is evolving daily due to everyday technological advancements. To keep ahead of the latest research, innovative medical devices, drug updates, and changing healthcare parameters/metrics is a tough mission for the busy healthcare professional.

With the advent of smart devices like the smartphone, the healthcare industry can aim to reduce medical errors caused by human factors. These days, nearly every healthcare professional uses a mobile device during work hours. They can install a drug guide on their smartphone and experience the following:

  1. Enhanced point-of-care coordination – practitioners can now coordinate better with patients about their diagnosis, medication and follow-up process
  2. Access anytime, anywhere. No Wi-Fi needed – information is always at their fingertips
  3. No more heavy books to carry
  4. Increased diagnostic accuracy by keeping accurate and descriptive notes
  5. Prevention of medication errors by administering medicines with confidence:
    • Confirm whether the drug dosing prescribed is correct for treatment
    • Confirm whether the correct drug is administered for Dx/Tx
  6. Readily available calculators and interactive tools
  7. Inline dosing calculators to determine dosing tailored to larger/smaller patients/pediatrics (according to patient’s age)
  8. Quickly search medicines by brand or generic names
  9. Look-up drug form availability (tablet, capsule, syrup or drops)
  10. Determine Y site compatibility at the bedside
  11. Explore lab test considerations
  12. Understand pregnancy or pediatric considerations
  13. Check potential drug interactions
  14. Research side-effects for patient education
  15. Audio pronunciation of drug – in order to properly pronounce when talking with peers, patient or family
  16. Pill images – determine medication the patient is taking, if the prescription bottle is not present
  17. Bookmarks/History – for quick reference to frequently prescribed drugs
  18. Peace of mind
  19. Safe drug administration techniques
  20. Drug monographs with newly approved drugs, drug classifications, drug combinations, medical abbreviations, symbols, units of measurement, nursing diagnoses, immunization schedule, high alert medication indications, adverse drug reactions, dangerous drugs, clinical alerts, and other warnings.

For these and other reasons, a drug guide on a smartphone provides numerous advantages to healthcare professionals. We are fortunate to live in a day and age where with the advent of smart devices like the smartphone, the healthcare industry can aim to reduce medical errors caused by human factors.

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