Blog Post

A New Year’s Reflection on Global Medication Safety

Allison Hanson PharmD, BCPS; 2019-2020 International Medication Safety Management Fellow Supported by Baxter International Inc.

Some people say what you are doing on New Year’s Eve may predict your upcoming year. Today, I reflect on my amazing trip in October to Rabat, Morocco to attend the International Medication Safety Network (IMSN) Annual Meeting.

In July, I started my fellowship with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). In August, our staff began ironing out the agenda and I was invited to give a presentation and facilitate a discussion on oral methotrexate. By September, our flights were booked and in October we were on our way to the conference!

Sunday, October 13th, the Morocco Poison Control and Pharmacovigilance Centre hosted a medication safety workshop for countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. In the afternoon, I gave my presentation on oral methotrexate. Oral methotrexate is an International Medication Safety Network Global Targeted Medication Safety Best Practice (G-TMSBP). In the United States and abroad, many prescription, transcription, dispensation, and administration errors have led to daily instead of weekly dosing of oral methotrexate for non-oncological indications. These errors result in extensive morbidity and mortality. My presentation highlighted risk-reduction strategies that anecdotally have been shown to reduce the risk of error. At the workshop, other topics consisted of errors related to labeling and packaging, anticoagulants, paracetamol, neuromuscular blockers, vincristine, and newborn/mother mix-ups.

Monday, October 14th the IMSN Annual Meeting officially began. The meeting opened with greetings from Michael Cohen, Chairperson of IMSN and ISMP president, and Rachida Soulaymani Bencheikh, Director of the Rabat WHO Collaborating Center for Pharmacovigilance and the Moroccan Poison Control Centre. The meeting followed with a panel discussion on all three G-TMSBPs —potassium concentrate injection, vinca alkaloids in a mini-bag, and oral methotrexate, an update from the World Health Organization, presentations from Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. Lastly, I was invited to participate in a panel regarding new international projects. I was so delighted to discuss ISMP’s activities with IMSN. Our evening concluded with an intimate dinner at the home of one of the physicians from the Moroccan Pharmacovigilance Centre with all the meeting participants.

Tuesday, October 15th was the final day of the meeting. Lively discussion followed about barcodes on product labels, pharmacovigilance programs, and medication error assessment. Countries and organizations participating included experts from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uppsula Monitoring Centre in Sweden, and World Health Organization.

On Wednesday, October 16th, with a heavy heart, I flew back home. This New Year’s Eve, I fully intend to work and later carry a suitcase around my home again with the hopes of traveling, speaking and supporting medication error reduction globally!

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