Self-Assessment Tool Can Help Improve Medication Safety


Revised ISMP tool helps pharmacies see where they may be missing best practices.

Pharmacists and pharmacies want to do all they can to ensure the safety of their patients, but a lot of factors can interfere with using the best safety practices. A good way to determine if all the best practices are being used is a self-assessment tool that gives a systematic appraisal of safe medication use.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practice (ISMP) has revised its self-assessment tool to help community and ambulatory pharmacies see what they are doing right and show where they could do better. The 2017 ISMP Medication Safety Self-Assessment for Community/Ambulatory Pharmacy is divided into 10 sections built around core characteristics of a safe pharmacy system. Each core characteristic contains a series of questions that assess how closely a pharmacist or pharmacy is following best practices.

The last version of the tool was released in 2001. “These changes represent new practices and processes that have evolved over the last 15 years that are known to impact medication safety, including new research findings about error prevention,” said Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, President of the ISMP, in a letter at the organization’s website.

There are a total of 216 questions in the tool designed to determine if-or where-there is a system failure that can lead to a medication error. These failures can occur because the staff has formed bad habits, due to gaps in training, or they may stem from a management culture that does not allow errors to be discussed openly.

The tool is designed to be used by the whole team at a pharmacy, including pharmacy technicians. It is geared at helping staff raise awareness of issues and make improvements.

In addition to the revised self-assessment tool, ISMP also has materials that can be used in conjunction with it. These include event documentation forms and workbooks that help analyze the root cause of a problem. These materials can help pharmacists and staff investigate medication errors to determine what types of issues triggered a medication error or a near-miss of an error.

The self-assessment tool and related materials are available at ISMP’s website.

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