Medication Storage and Preparation Area
Charge Nurse, Capt. Angela Green, prepares medication in the Medical Surgical Ward's medication storage and preparation area, an enclosed space intended to cut down on distractions when nurses are preparing medication. Green wears the highly visible orange belt which signals others that she is in "the MED zone" and should not be distracted until she has completed her medication administrative tasks. (Photo by John Brooks)

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- The hospital's safety department has earned the National Patient Safety Foundation's Stand Up for Patient Safety Award recently through an initiative called "the MED Zone," designed to decrease medication-related errors.

The award recognizes an organization's successful implementation of an outstanding patient safety initiative that was led by, or created by, mid-level management. It is one of only two presented by the NPSF this year.

"The MED Zone," also known as the "Must Eliminate Distractions" zone, consists of two elements.
First, nursing staff has an enclosed medication storage and preparation area where they can go into to prepare medications for the patients, closing a door behind them to cut down on distractions.

Second, Nurses also physically wear an orange belt slung diagonally across their bodies during the medication preparation and administration time for the purpose of alerting others that they are in "the zone" and should not be distracted until they have completed medication administration tasks.

This initiative was instituted as a performance improvement process using data taken from other military and civilian facilities that use similar programs to decrease medication related errors.

Working as a team, staff nurses on the medical surgical ward, the clinical nurse officer in charge, and the patient safety nurse wrote the policy and rolled out the process on the hospital's medical surgical ward here back in 2012.

The process was tested for three months while data from patient safety reports was collected.

At the end of the three month time period the medication administration rate showed a significant decrease in medication related errors.

The program stayed in place within the ward and additional data was collected every 90 days for 12 months, when results showed a 70 percent decrease in medication related errors.

Following the success of the policy on the medical surgical ward, the hospital safety committee presented the data to the command and the protocol was instituted organization wide.

(Editor's note: Laura Fowle is the clinical nurse officer in charge of the Medical/Surgical Unit at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)

Page last updated Thu June 11th, 2015 at 15:10