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Medication safety officer’s handbook (Book review)

‘Medication safety officer’s handbook’, by Connie M. Larson and Deb Saine. Pp xi+353. Price $79. Maryland: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2013. ISBN 978 1 58528 210 4

By Laurence A. Goldberg

Learn the basics about medication safety

‘Medication safety officer’s handbook’, by Connie M. Larson and Deb Saine. Pp xi+353. Price $79. Maryland: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2013. ISBN 978 1 58528 210 4

Larson and Saine’s book offers expert guidance in most areas of the work carried out by medication safety professionals, from setting up safety systems to dealing with personnel issues. It deals with strategies for making changes, setting up systems for reporting and analysing errors and helping on managing adverse outcomes.

Attempts are made to answer a number of key questions, such as what the responsibilities of a medication safety officer are and how issues are prioritised. Each chapter begins with some key terms, followed by a brief introduction, and ends with a list of practical tips. Occasional case examples can be found within some of the chapters.

One of the most useful chapters is on safety in the medication-use system. The author lists the components of the medication-use system as procurement, outdates and recall management, storage control, ordering and prescribing, order and prescription review, preparation, distribution, administration and documentation, and monitoring. At each stage, risks are identified and prioritised and approaches are suggested to address the critical high-risk medication use processes.

The chapter on medication error reporting and analysis defines a medication error, discusses the detection of medication errors, looks at voluntary reporting and, finally, discusses the analysis of medication error reports. Although the chapter is fairly comprehensive, it could have been improved by including some of the original groundbreaking work developed and introduced by the National Patient Safety Agency over 10 years ago.

The book is structured to provide a guide for both newly appointed medication safety officers and those already working in the field. Experienced practitioners will gain little benefit from the book, but students and those healthcare workers beginning a career in medication safety or with an interest in medication error reduction would benefit from including this book in their libraries. 

Laurence A. Goldberg is a pharmaceutical consultant from Bury, Lancashire.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11126313

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