New products help curb injectable med errors

July 23, 2007

Inviro Medical Devices has introduced an integral write-on stripe, Invirostripe, to its complete line of manually retractable InviroSNAP! safety syringes.

"This is a fantastic idea," said Steven Levy, Pharm.D., BCPS, CGP, clinical pharmacy specialist, internal medicine and geriatrics at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. "A writable surface is a great concept and could really improve medication error rates. Imagine an anesthesiologist is in an operating room and draws up a syringe or two and then puts them down and walks to the other side of the room. When he returns, how can he be sure which syringe is which, or if these are even the ones he filled? By having a readily accessible area on the syringe, he can easily determine its contents."

These new products correlate with some of the biggest concerns among nurses, according to the 2007 study, an independent study sponsored by the American Nurses Associa-tion and Inviro Medical Devices. It asked 1,039 nurses about errors related to injectable medications and syringe labeling. Complete results of the study can be found at: http:// http://www.nursingworld.org/coeh/resources/ANA_InviroSurveyFacts061507.pdf.

The study also asked nurses to report on their experiences with contaminated needles. Over their career, 55% of nurses said they had a needlestick injury from needles contaminated by blood or body fluids, and 26% reported being stuck multiple times. The study clearly underscores the need for new technology to reduce risks associated with medication errors.

Levy maintains that Joint Commission guidelines call for all syringes to be labeled. "The InviroSTRIPE would definitely be a major help for hospitals trying to meet these standards," he said. The Joint Commission's 2007 National Patient Safety Goals, Goal 3D, recommends all medication containers (for example, syringes, medicine cups, basins) be labeled. According to the Joint Commission, empty syringes should not be prelabeled; rather, they should be labeled at the time the medication is prepared.

However, Levy has some reservations about the practical applications of the InviroSTRIPE and InviroSNAP! "Before recommending these products for use in the hospital, I would like to see some studies done on the compliance and medication error rates. Will clinicians use the write-on stripe? How much improvement is there in error rates, and does it warrant the extra cost of the product?"

The InviroSNAP! safety syringes are manually retractable, designed to prevent needlestick injury. The healthcare worker retracts the needle into the barrel of the syringe and then snaps the plunger off from the syringe device. Snapping off the plunger also keeps the needle from being reused.

Care must be taken when inserting air into a vial not to push the plunger in all the way, or else the safety mechanism will engage. Levy said he would like to see some research on the rates at which this error occurs, as it could lead to doses needing to be reordered, delayed doses, or even missed doses entirely.

The InviroSTRIPE feature is available on Inviro Medical Devices' full range of manually retractable InviroSNAP! safety syringes in both fixed and exchangeable needle combinations, as well as on standard Luer Lok syringes.

THE AUTHOR is a writer and a pharmacist at a family-owned pharmacy in Brooklyn, N.Y.