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ISMP List of High-Alert Medications in Acute Care Settings

ISMP List of High-Alert (High Risk) Medications in Acute Care Settings

“High-alert medications are drugs that bear a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm when they are used in error. Although mistakes may or may not be more common with these drugs, the consequences of an error are clearly more devastating to patients. We hope you will use this list to determine which medications require special safeguards to reduce the risk of errors. This may include strategies such as standardizing the ordering, storage, preparation, and administration of these products; improving access to information about these drugs; limiting access to high alert medications; using auxiliary labels; employing clinical decision support and automated alerts; and using redundancies such as automated or independent double checks when necessary. (Note: manual independent double checks are not always the optimal error-reduction strategy and may not be practical for all of the medications on the list.)

“Based on error reports submitted to the ISMP National Medication Errors Reporting Program (ISMP MERP), reports of harmful errors in the literature, studies that identify the drugs most often involved in harmful errors, and input from practitioners and safety experts, ISMP created and periodically updates a list of potential high-alert medications. During June and July 2018, practitioners responded to an ISMP survey designed to identify which medications were most frequently considered high-alert medications. Further, to assure relevance and completeness, the clinical staff at ISMP and members of the ISMP advisory board were asked to review the potential list. This list of medications and medication categories reflects the collective thinking of all who provided input.”

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