As many hospitals struggle to improve in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) survival rates, trusted thought leadership organizations are increasing their focus on resuscitation practices. One area that is getting more attention? Medication, supplies, and equipment management.
For example, starting January 2022, The Joint Commission will require hospitals to make sufficient resuscitation equipment available based on patient population needs.1 It’s ultimately up to individual institutions to determine how this requirement is rolled out, but data shows that an optimal resuscitation response requires at least some inventory standardization and organization.2
Likewise, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) has long emphasized the need to prevent hospital medication errors — and standardized medication storage and administration have been shown to help.
Logically, this makes perfect sense. When a predetermined set of resuscitation medications and equipment are reliably located in easily accessible, well-organized stations throughout the hospital, Code Blue responders are free to address the emergency at hand. No wasting valuable time searching for what they need or worrying about expired or non-functioning inventory.2
But setting up such a system is easier said than done, and there are a few different ways to implement one. Keep reading to learn about 3 strategies for managing hospital emergency medications, supplies, and equipment: manual management, piecemeal automated systems, and integrated automated solutions.
Strategy 1: Manual Inventory Management
Advanced medication and equipment management systems are relatively common in the world of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). That’s because EMS teams primarily respond to urgent events outside of the hospital setting, where time, storage space, and mobility are extremely limited. Hospitals, on the other hand, tend to focus on standardizing emergency processes. Equipment, supply, and medication management systems often take a backseat, with many hospitals managing emergency inventory manually.
This can get unwieldy as the equipment made available for emergencies can vary significantly between hospitals. Some institutions use a rapid response team (RRT) bag while others use crash carts. Some may regularly provide only an automated external defibrillator (AED) while others may stipulate that Code Blue responders use a full defibrillator that can monitor electrocardiograms (ECGs) and invasive lines. Keeping track of which equipment should be available (and whether that equipment is charged and in good working order) via pen and paper checklists or manual, localized data entry is time consuming and potentially unreliable.
By comparison, the selection of available emergency medications is relatively standardized based on American Heart Association (AHA) Guidelines. These typically include Epinephrine, amiodarone, lidocaine, naloxone, and Atropine.3 Other medications, such as calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and vasopressin may also be added to emergency kits. And, although they are more expensive, pre-drawn, color-coded “bristojets” are often used to ensure accurate dosage and efficient response.
But, despite all the technology available to hospital caregivers, most often these drugs are stored and organized in a plastic tackle box without any form of technology to manage them. From determining which meds are expired or expiring soon to which are missing or running low, it all too often comes down to manual management and oversight, which is not only less efficient but also more prone to human error. And during in-hospital emergency events, when every moment and every decision counts, patients and clinicians can’t afford any room for error.
Strategy 2: Piecemeal Automated Inventory Management
Fortunately, there are electronic inventory management systems available today that can help to reduce human error as well as the time it takes for hospital staff to check and recheck emergency supplies.
You could adopt a supplemental solution like Kit Check, MedEx TraySafe, or OnTraq from HealthFirst. These systems help clinicians track usage of medications and replenish them as they are used and/or when they are about to expire. With systems like these, staff would likely spend less time manually tracking, sourcing, and replacing medications. And they could have more confidence that the drugs they need will be available and unexpired in the event of an in-hospital cardiac arrest.
However, because these solutions primarily focus on medications, staff may still need to manage emergency equipment and supplies either manually or through another supplemental system. This type of hybrid solution might be a good stepping stone towards a more comprehensive, integrated management system, but it also adds to an already cluttered roster of isolated applications and processes that need to be maintained.
Strategy 3: Integrated Automated Inventory Management
A more comprehensive solution, such as the EMMIT™ Emergency Care System from Nuvara®, enables digital management of not only medications but also supplies and equipment — and it connects with other systems. Combining next-gen crash cart hardware and purpose-built inventory management software, EMMIT provides unsurpassed:
- Visibility: Inventory Manager and Cart Check software, integrated storage access and climate sensors, and other unique features enable hospital staff to easily and electronically monitor and manage emergency inventory in real time. EMMIT also makes it easy for passersby to know at-a-glance whether each cart is code-ready — and what exact areas need attention if it’s not.
- Integration: EMMIT features an on-board barcode scanner, companion transfer cart, and centralized management application that enable automatic digital inventory reporting, EMR syncing, streamlined restocking, and more. At last, the modern user experience pharmacy already enjoys with automated dispensing cabinets and anesthesia workstations is now available on a crash cart.
- Standardization: With EMMIT, standardizing inventory lists, cart checks, reconciliation, restocking, reporting, and system administration across the entire hospital or health system is a snap. It even helps to standardize the resuscitation response itself via CoDirector™ Software that provides real-time CPR, intervention, and medication dosing guidance based on your hospital’s established protocols and formulary items.
Part of the EMMIT Emergency Care System, our standalone CoDirector Software also supports compliance with other new resuscitation guidelines from The Joint Commission by enabling:
- Real-time, digital event documentation
- Data-driven mock code training
- And automatic reporting for immediate “hot” debriefs and regular “cold” debriefs that help to optimize resuscitation practices over time.
The Bottom Line?
Managing emergency medications, supplies, and equipment is a challenge every hospital faces. While many institutions are still getting by with manual systems, it’s clear that automated inventory management is the future — and integrated systems are a key component of that future.
Solutions like the EMMIT Emergency Care System can help to standardize care, integrate and improve all aspects of an emergency response, and reduce the time clinicians spend checking equipment redundancies, as required by TJC and other regulatory agencies. Ultimately, it’s all about improving patient care and empowering an optimal resuscitation response.