High-Alert Medications in Long-Term Care (LTC) Settings
High-alert medications are drugs that bear a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm when they are used in error. Although mistakes may or may not be more common with these drugs, the consequences of an error are clearly more devastating to patients.
Use ISMP's List of High-Alert Medications in Long-Term Care (LTC) Settings to determine which medications in your facility require special safeguards to reduce the risk of errors and minimize harm. Strategies may include:
- Standardizing the ordering, storage, preparation, and administration of these products
- Improving access to information about these drugs
- Limiting access to high-alert medications
- Using auxiliary labels and automated alerts
- Employing redundancies
Long-Term Acute Care (LTAC) facilities, and LTC facilities with subacute units or where a wide variety of intravenous medications are administered, should also use the ISMP List of High-Alert Medications in Acute Care Settings, which can be found in the related items. Facilities are also encouraged to use other resources, such as the Beers Criteria1 and STOPP and START Criteria,2 to identify and address medications that should be avoided in the elderly population, which are different from high-alert medications.