The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has published guidelines with practical recommendations and best practices for preventing patient harm from medication errors. The ASHP Guidelines on Preventing Medication Errors in Hospitals describe opportunities for pharmacists on interprofessional teams to prevent errors across the continuum of care in hospitals and health systems.1

Developed by the ASHP Section of Inpatient Care Practitioners Advisory Group on Medication Safety, the guidelines state that organizations must have a comprehensive program that includes a medication safety leader, an event reporting system, a collaborative medication safety team, and a continuous quality improvement philosophy regarding evaluation of errors and harm.1

Pharmacists have a key role in promoting safety throughout the medication-use process, from selecting and procuring medications to monitoring patients after drugs are administered. According to the guidelines, 2 additional steps are added to the medication-use process, during patient admission and discharge. The new steps allow pharmacists to better obtain an accurate medication history, perform medication reconciliation, and provide patient education.2

“Pharmacists are the leaders in interprofessional efforts to prevent patient harm associated with medication errors,” said Kasey K. Thompson, PharmD, MS, MBA, and ASHP Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, in a prepared statement.1 “These guidelines will serve as an exceptional resource for the entire patient-care team and reflect ASHP’s 76-year commitment to constantly improving medication safety through the development of cutting-edge guidelines and other resources.”

In addition to patient admission and discharge, medication selection and procurement, and administration, the guidelines address numerous other areas in the medication-use process where errors may occur. They include:1
  • Storage
  • Ordering, transcribing, and reviewing
  • Preparation
  • Dispensing
  • Monitoring
  • Evaluation
The ASHP Guidelines on Preventing Medication Errors in Hospitals is published in the October issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, and appears on the publication’s website.1
Pharmacy Times' coverage of the 2018 ASHP Summer Meetings and Exhibition 

  1. ASHP publishes guidelines on preventing medication errors [news release]. Bethesda, MD; October 2, 2018: ASAP website. Accessed October 2, 2018.
  2. Cohen MR. Smetzer JL. Vaida AJ. ASHP guidelines on preventing medication errors in hospitals: Advancing medication safety to the next level. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. October 2018, 75 (19) 1444-1445; DOI: Accessed October 2, 2018.