Quick intervention with reversal agents can often help minimize the amount of harm to a patient when an adverse drug event (ADE) occurs. However, if the staff members involved do not have sufficient experience with these interventions, or if they are upset by the event, they may not respond appropriately or quickly enough. Consultants who have experience with the medication involved and the appropriate interventions provide a valuable level of support. When staff members can call upon expert consultants who can respond quickly to assist them, the amount of harm to the patient may be significantly reduced.
- Ensure that the consultants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Identify personnel who are on-site to be consultants whenever possible so they can report directly to the location of the ADE. Use nurses, pharmacists and physicians who work routinely with certain medications and are the best experts.
- Provide positive feedback to staff members when they call consultants — asking for help should never be counted against someone in a performance appraisal.
- Encourage staff members to consider their consultants as tools to help prevent ADEs and to call them with questions, not just to ask for mitigation help after things go wrong.
- Collect data on the frequency and reasons for calls to consultants, as they may identify education and training needs.
- Implement a training program to develop additional in-house consultants from within the staff.