Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thank You Joint Commission For Raising The Cost Of Medicine

The Joint Commission was established to monitor the competency of hospitals to treat patients. In many ways it is good because it forces medical facilities to improve any deficiencies that might affect patient safety. But like any regulatory body, it is all too easy to go too far and start demanding practices that have minimal if any relevance to patient care. They suddenly seem like they are just making it up so they have a reason to exist.

After our last inspection, the JC demanded that we label all syringes with the name and concentration of the drug within, date and time the syringe, and your initials. This rule applies to ALL syringes, even the sterile drugs we draw in the course of preparing for a regional anesthetic. The only exceptions are drugs we draw up then immediately push into the patient without our hands ever leaving the syringe. You can see how that can be problematic if you're wearing sterile gloves and have to label sterile syringes.

Despite months of protests and letter exchanges, even with the backing of the ASA, the JC would not back down from their demand for labeling sterile syringes. So this is the solution our department has concocted. On every regional anesthesia package, we now tape a sterile marker to the box for use to label the sterile syringes. Now we have a solution for a problem we never knew we had. Thank you TJC for looking after patient safety. I'm sure this will save as many lives as your rule for placing the dirty laundry basket at least five feet away from the trash basket.

1 comment:

  1. While JCAHO has been the bane of my existence on many occasions, I actually agree with this. I believe it relates to labeling in general, not just syringes (basins, etc). You may not have had a problem (or just not yet detected?) but there are reports of others who have with devastating results (read: death) attributed to unlabeled "containers" as well as incidents from which patients have recovered but these are preventable nonetheless. Yes, it's a pain, the anesthesia dept where I worked was not happy either. Sometimes safety is not convenient.