Top 10 ways to avoid vaccine errors

May 2, 2014

Due to the number of vaccine errors reported to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) National Vaccine Errors Reporting System, the organization has developed recommendations for practitioners to reduce such errors.

Due to the number of vaccine errors reported to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) National Vaccine Errors Reporting System, the organization has developed recommendations for practitioners to reduce such errors.

Here are the top 10 ways to avoid vaccine errors:

1. Post up-to-date, easy-to-read, immunization schedules for infants, children, teens, and adults so staff can quickly reference them.

2. Provide patients, parents, and caregivers with written information about vaccines, including the most recent federal Vaccine Information statement (VIS) in the patient’s native language.

3. Establish standard order sets or protocols for frequently administered vaccines to ensure consistency.

4. Maintain cold storage. Most vaccines must be stored in a refrigerator or freezer maintained within a specific temperature range, and many vaccines require protection from light.

5. Separate pediatric and adult formulations of vaccines in all storage areas, and affix “Adult” or “Pediatric” labels to the vaccines and/or storage containers.

 

6. Avoid storing pre-drawn syringes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and most vaccine manufacturers do not recommend drawing vaccines into syringes well in advance of administration.

7. Label all prepared syringes. Unless the vaccine is prepared in front of the patient in the exam room or at the bedside and administered immediately, all vaccines prepared in syringes should be labeled. Peel-off labels to use for this purpose may be available on some manufacturer vaccine vials.

8. Use full names or standard abbreviations. If necessary, only use standard vaccine abbreviations recommended by the CDC. Do not use ad-hoc abbreviations such as “H Flu” for Haemophilus influenza type b, which can be misinterpreted as influenza vaccine.

9. Discard cartons. Consider removing vials of vaccines from their outer cartons prior to storage to avoid the risk of misplacing a vial back into the wrong carton. Vials should be separated into bins or other containers, according to vaccine type and formulation.

10. Purchase oral vaccines in the safest packaging. The only oral liquid vaccine commercially available in the United States is the rotavirus vaccine, which has been inadvertently administered via the intramuscular route, risking infection and rendering the vaccine ineffective.