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ISMP Unveils Order Set Guidelines

March 12, 2010
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The Horsham, Pa.-based Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has developed a set of guidelines to help ensure that standardized order sets addressing common conditions are carefully designed, reviewed, and maintained in order to prevent errors.

The order sets can be used for paper based as well as CPOE systems, says the organization. The guidelines cover three areas that commonly result in errors:

  • Content — making sure orders are complete, including information beyond what the prescriber may initially consider (such as monitoring requirements), reflecting best practices, and standardizing order sets among practitioners who provide patient care.
  • Format — determining appropriate symbols, abbreviations, dose designations, punctuation, patient information prompts, layout, and directions for use.
  • Approval and Maintenance — managing initial approval as well as subsequent revisions, keeping order sets current, and preventing unacceptable variations in care.

ISMP recommends that organizations establish an interdisciplinary implementation process for maintaining order sets, and provide staff with clear directions to follow if they encounter order sets that do not comply with the established rules.

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