DoH updates standard on reporting medication errors

The Department of Health-Abu Dhabi, DoH, the regulator of the healthcare sector in Abu Dhabi, published an updated Standard on Reporting Medication Errors, MEs, specifying the monitoring, reporting and evaluation responsibilities of healthcare professionals and facilities.

Dr. Khaled Al Jaberi, Director of Healthcare Licencing and Medical Education Division at the DoH, said, "Through our efforts, we aim to bring locals and residents the highest levels of safety and quality of healthcare services with the lowest levels of MEs, in line with key global indicators. We aim to reduce MEs as much as possible, whilst ensuring these errors are studied, reviewed and that procedures are established to prevent them from reoccurring. This will undoubtedly contribute to advancing the emirate's healthcare system and enhancing its healthcare outcomes."

Under the updated standard, healthcare facilities must report MEs associated with permanent patient harm that require intervention to sustain life or are associated with a patient's death within 48 hours of identifying and documenting the error, whereas MEs that caused no harm or temporary harm to the patient can be reported to the DoH on a monthly basis.

In the case of MEs in healthcare facilities across Abu Dhabi, the standard requires healthcare providers, including pharmacies, to address the errors by identifying the root causes that led to them. Using this information, healthcare experts will be expected to conduct thorough analyses of the errors, thereby seeking ways to improve the medical system and prevent similar errors from occurring in the future.

The new standard also stipulates that healthcare facilities operating in Abu Dhabi must develop long-term monitoring plans to ensure that changes come into effect after the MEs occur, and to report all MEs, including near misses and errors that were prevented due to intervention by a healthcare staff or the patient.

The updated standard adopts the "Culture of Safety", designed to promote the development and implementation of the Continuous Quality Improvement system, a concept adopted by international organisations such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The DoH has directed healthcare facilities to provide training to ensure all their employees understand the classification of MEs, including the severity levels of harm. The DoH has also asked healthcare facilities to report MEs within the defined timeframe in the standard.

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