Search: The Web MPSC

Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Friday, October 9, 2009

Contact: Patty Charvat, MHA, 978-318-9375 or 978-273-7764 (cell),

Study Finds Medication Use Safer in Maryland

Elkridge, MD - A study of 35 Maryland hospitals published in the October 2009 issue of the medical journal, Quality & Safety in Health Care, has found “significant” improvement in the safe delivery of medications and drugs to hospitalized patients.

Researchers concluded that aggregate mean statewide safety scores for these acute care hospitals rose by nearly 10 percent in just two years when it came to medication delivery.

The lead investigator was Vahé A. Kazandjian, Ph.D., on behalf of the Maryland Patient Safety Center, which is jointly supported by the Maryland Hospital Association and the Delmarva Foundation. 

Comparing uniform safety data on medication use between 2005 and 2007, the authors reported that Maryland hospitals scored highest in the safe storage, standardized distribution and safe labeling, and packaging of drugs.

In other categories, the 35 hospitals showed gains in strategies to minimize errors tied to similar or confusing drug labeling, standardizing the timing for administering drugs to patients, and ongoing safety and medication education for hospital practitioners.

“The work of Maryland hospitals illustrates appropriate medication use benefits from the right internal structures to avoid or minimize errors.  These findings confirm hospitals’ momentum toward better safety of care,” said Kazandjian.

Ten years ago, the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) and its member hospitals embarked on a voluntary self-assessment of safe-medication use, known as the MEDSAFE Project.  “This kind of data is key to our efforts to improve the quality and safety of hospital care," said Carmela Coyle, MHA President & CEO. 

Using these data, the research team collated 241 assessment items and then compared results from 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The highest overall scores came in keeping hazardous chemicals away from drug-preparation and patient areas (97 percent), and restricting access to medication stock on each hospital unit (93 percent).

Areas in which hospitals showed slower progress included communication of medication orders and patient education.

The researchers noted that “scores on all of the key [medication-safety] elements significantly increased between 2005 and 2007” with the exception of environmental factors, which still showed a 3.2 percent rise over the 2005 score.

The release of the journal article coincides with the annual MEDSAFE Conference being held today at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City.  This year’s focus is on using health IT and best practices to improve medication safety. 

“For the past decade, Maryland hospitals have continuously improved medication safety.  Hospitals continue their commitment to improve with participation in today's annual MEDSAFE Conference to share best practices and innovative strategies,” said William Minogue, M.D., Executive Director of the Maryland Patient Safety Center. 

A follow-up study is under way.  The investigators concluded that “a longer observation period may be necessary to identify [specific] changes in each area of practice” relating to medication safety.  They also suggested that patient safety improvements need to be viewed as an integral part of patient care rather than simply a “project.”

As a result of the study, the report noted that several Maryland hospitals have initiated ongoing internal monitoring of areas where weaknesses were uncovered.  The investigators also noted those hospitals will benefit from information-sharing from other hospitals on effective practices they have employed.

# # #

For an abstract of the article go to:

For a copy of the full article contact Dana Bonistalli at: 410-379-6200.

About the Maryland Patient Safety Center
The Maryland Patient Safety Center, jointly supported by the Maryland Hospital Association and the Delmarva Foundation, brings together hospitals and health care providers to improve patient safety and health care quality for all Marylanders.  The goal of the Patient Safety Center is to make Maryland's health care the safest in the nation by focusing on the systems of care, reducing the occurrence of adverse events, and improving the culture of patient safety at Maryland health care facilities.  For further information, visit