A New, Safety-Oriented, Integrated Drug Administration and Automated Anesthesia Record System

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Medication errors are an important cause of patient morbidity and mortality and excessive costs, including in anesthesia. Conventional methods of injectable drug administration in anesthesia make little use of technology to support manual checking and are idiosyncratic and relatively error prone. Similarly, conventional anesthesia records are handwritten, time-consuming to make, and often unreliable. There are automated record systems, but they do not provide support for checking drugs. Therefore, by using a multifaceted approach based on established principles of systems design and human factors psychology, we have developed a system that includes trays that promote a well-organized anesthetic workspace, color- and bar-coded labeling of syringes, and automatic visual and auditory verification of the syringe labels by computer just before each drug administration. In addition, documentation of drugs administered and a traditional anesthetic case record are generated automatically. The system has been successfully deployed for 25 mo and has been used by 35 anesthesiologists in 1148 diverse cases, including cardiopulmonary bypass procedures, heart and lung transplants, and orthopedic and otorhinolaryngologic operations. It is in daily use in a tertiary teaching center and in a private hospital.

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