We summarize the development and initial implementation of a survey tool to assess medication safety in small rural hospitals.
As part of an ongoing rural hospital medication safety improvement program, we developed a survey tool in all 13 critical access hospitals (CAHs) in Florida. The survey was compiled from existing medication safety assessments and standards, clinical practice guidelines, and published literature. Survey items were selected based on considerations regarding practicality and relevance to the CAH setting.
The final survey instrument included 134 items representing 17 medication safety domains. Overall hospital scores ranged from 41% to 95%, with a median of 59%. Most hospitals showed large variation in scores across domains, with 5 hospitals having at least 1 domain with scores less than 10%. Highest scores across all facilities were seen for safety procedures concerning high-alert or look-alike medications and the assembly of emergency carts. The lowest median scores included availability and consistent use of standardized order sets and the effective implementation of medication safety committees. Most hospitals used the survey results to identify and prioritize quality improvement activities.
The survey can be used to conduct a short medication safety assessment specific to a limited number of areas and services in CAHs. It showed good ability to discriminate medication safety levels across participating sites and highlighted opportunities for improvement. It may need modification if case mix or services differ in other states or if the status quo of medication safety in CAHs or related standards advance. The described process of survey development might be helpful to support such modifications.