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AU MEDS Reduces Errors

at the Maine Medical Center




"AU MEDS ought to be used by every hospital in the United States."

Ken Baker, Vice President and General Counsel,

Pharmacists Mutual Insurance



















































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An Observation Based Method for
Detecting Medication Errors


Often referred to as the "gold standard" for measuring medication administration errors, the observation based AU MEDS system trains and certifies healthcare professionals to observe and examine each and every medication dose that is administered or omitted during observation periods.


"This approach ... is reliable; it represents

an effective mechanism for identifying

administration errors"

David Bates, MD, MSc, Chief, Division of General Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital




First, the hospital uses a profile developed by Auburn University to identify a nurse to be trained in the observation method. After onsite training by our staff, this nurse observes medication administrations during peak workload periods in selected nursing units.


These bedside observations are recorded and compared to the patients' charts to identify any discrepancies between the observed administration and the physician's orders.


This review is then entered into the AU MEDS software and the nurse/observer meets with the observed nurse to validate any discrepancies as errors and to solicit assistance in seeking “clues to cause”.



The observation method is free of the known and important limitations of all self-reporting methods:

Observation is not subject to the provider's willingness to file a report

Observation identifies errors unknowingly committed by the provider

In a recent study of 2,557 doses, three different medication error detection systems were evaluated:

· Self-reporting identified 1 error
· Chart review identified 24 errors
· Observation identified 373 errors


If errors are not detected, hospitals cannot make the necessary improvements. The same errors will likely be repeated frequently on the same patient.

Root causes for medication errors can occur anywhere in the delivery system and not necessarily within the administration process. Individual errors remain confidential. When the suspected cause for an error has been identified, steps can then be taken by the healthcare professionals to make system changes and reduce the likelihood that the same error will recur.



A proprietary version of the observation based method for detecting medication errors was developed by Dr. Barker and his staff at Auburn University and has been used since the early 1980s for qualifying nursing homes for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement.

The use of the observation method allows hospitals to identify faulty processes, recommend systems changes and then evaluate the impact of the changes. The observation method also reveals “clues to cause” for focused follow-up studies.


click on the following

article about MedAccuracy



Previous MedAccuracy Webinars


The Role of Observation in Assessing and Monitoring Point-of-Care Medication-Safety Technologies


Featuring Rich Paoletti and Tina Suess from

Lancaster General Hospital


Click on the following link:



Co-sponsored with the  unSUMMIT


Click on the following for Webinar Q&A:

Papers and Publications/Lancaster Webinar QA.pdf



Evidence-Based Comparison of Medication Error Measurement Methods


Click on the following link: 




An Overview of MedAccuracy at

DCH Regional Medical Center


Click on the following link: 



Press Releases


North Mississippi Medical Center Wins State-Wide Awards


Click below to read article




Flagler Hospital Installs AU MEDS®


Toni Covato, Director of Pharmacy Services at Flagler, says,

“In the first week, use of AU MEDS® prompted systemic improvements that will promote the safety of our patients.”


(click to review entire story)

Flagler Hospital and MedAccuracy Improve Patient Safety



American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy


Using Bar Code Technology and Medication Observation Methodology for Safer Medication Administration


View your ePrint

Click then Print



Lancaster General Reports

on the Effectiveness of the

Bridge Medical POC and AU MEDS


Lancaster General Hospital (LGH), a 521-bed non-profit hospital that is nationally recognized for its efficiency and high quality of care, credits the combination of Bridge Medical's MedPoint bar-coding technology and MedAccuracy's observation methodology for providing LGH with a real-time understanding of its medication system errors.


Excluding errors caused by not giving medications on time, the new technology system was linked to a 54% reduction in errors in the medical/surgery unit at LGH.




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