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Focusing on Medication Safety

Employee Health Coordinator Janet Muchuelas speaks to an employee about options for smoking cessation. Photo by James Arrowood.
Employee Health Coordinator Janet Muchuelas speaks to an employee about options for smoking cessation. Photo by James Arrowood.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is one of 10 VA Patient Safety Centers of Inquiry (PSCI) selected nationally to develop innovations to improve patient safety throughout VA.

The 10 centers which include VAMCs in Ann Arbor, Mich., Houston, Iowa City and Los Angeles, receive special funding over three years to develop and export their initiatives.

Charleston VAMC’s PSCI is working to improve medication safety as Veterans transition between VA and non-VA care settings.

“The PSCI program is the pre-eminent patient safety innovation network in the Veterans Health Administration,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Since 1999, the interventions implemented through the PSCI program have significantly contributed to our Veterans receiving the safest care anywhere.”

Adverse Drug Events (ADE) and potential ADEs, that could occur more easily as Veterans are seen by multiple providers in VA and the community, are the focus of the Charleston VA program. The Charleston-based team is collecting data to better understand the frequency and nature of these events while also developing a pharmacist-led medication safety program to help ensure safety and continuity of care.

The pharmacist-led program will initially be implemented for high-risk Veterans hospitalized in the community outside of VA and Veterans who are referred for specialty procedures to non-VA community care providers. The Charleston PSCI will spread center-generated innovations both regionally and nationally across the VA Southeast Network and through partnerships with the VA Office of Community Care and the VA Pharmacy Benefits Management Service.

Acting VAMC Director Ronnie Smith added, “As a High Reliability Organization (HRO), these initiatives are always at the forefront of what we do at our VA. Our team is always working to improve safety and care quality for our Veterans.”

While National Patient Safety Awareness Week is officially recognized March 11 – 17, the Charleston PSCI and numerous other patient safety initiatives are a constant driving force at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

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