Objectives: In the United States, medication errors are considered to be the cause of 7000 deaths annually. Continuous quality improvement (CQI) is a management process that focuses on continually and systematically evaluating the organization's work process. In community pharmacy, CQI leads to enhanced patient safety through a reduction in medication errors and quality-related events (QREs). There is limited information about the variations in CQI regulations required by State Boards of Pharmacy (SBPs) for community pharmacy across the country. The objective of this study is to comprehensively describe CQI regulations required by SBPs for community pharmacy practice in the United States.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. Information regarding SBPs community pharmacy CQI regulations was collected electronically by surveying a representative of each SBP. In addition, a review of State Pharmacy Laws published online complemented the survey data. The percentage of states with CQI regulations for community pharmacy was estimated.
Results: Of the 50 Boards, 16 require pharmacies to maintain CQI programs to monitor and prevent QREs in community pharmacy. The most common elements of CQI programs include the management of known, alleged, and suspected medication errors that reach the patient (73%) and regular reviews of the pharmacy's aggregate data of medication errors or incidents (73%). The North Dakota SBP regulation is the most comprehensive, followed by that of Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Montana.
Conclusion: There is wide variation among SBP CQI regulations for community pharmacy practice. Standardization of CQI programs across Boards, including a national database for reporting medication errors and QREs would enhance patient safety.
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