[New initiatives to improve medication safety in hospitals]

Rev Esp Salud Publica. 2004 May-Jun;78(3):323-39. doi: 10.1590/s1135-57272004000300003.
[Article in Spanish]


Medication errors constitute a significant public health problem and are recognised as such nowadays among healthcare professionals, societies, authorities and international organizations. This has led to seeking and implementing effective practices focused on improving medication use safety. This article briefly describes some of the most recent initiatives promoted to prevent medication errors in the hospital setting. These safety improvement initiatives are based upon progressively developing an institutional culture of safety and on establishing practices designed to reduce errors or detect them in time, thus avoiding adverse effects to patients. Among these recent initiatives are the safety practices approved by the National Quality Forum, and the National Patient Safety Goals that the Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation has required since 2003. Also mentioned are several strategies that have been offered to facilitate the application of these practices, among which are the Pathways to Medication Safely, the development of collaborative projects among hospitals and organizations of experts, and the inclusion of a medication safety specialist in hospitals as a support figure overseeing the application of safety measures. Finally, the challenges inherent in putting these preventive measures into real patient's care are discussed. The barriers confronting this step must obviously be faced if improvements in patient safety are truly to be achieved.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medication Systems, Hospital / standards*
  • Safety