IV Compounding: Considerations And The Best Practices

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Since the dawn of humanity, people have been searching for ways to heal the sick and wounded.

During the early days, healers turned to natural items they found to have beneficial properties. The process of weeding out those helpful substances began slowly but eventually started to gain steam. Over time, healers even started combining those natural ingredients in different ways to boost their medicinal effects. Officially, pharmaceutical compounding dates back to medieval times, and it has endured through the centuries to become a common practice even today. While oral medications come to mind when many people think of compounding, it’s also commonly used for intravenous medications.

Taking a Closer Look at Compounding for Intravenous Solutions

IV Compounding entails creating specially formulated mixtures of medications to meet patients’ specific needs. This process begins with diagnosing a patient. From there, a physician prescribes a particular blend of medications based on the patient’s condition and medical requirements. Then, the prescription is passed along to a hospital pharmacy. Once it reaches the pharmacy, the necessary medications are mixed according to the physician’s instructions. Compounding also includes placing the medications into the IV bag, labeling it, and sending it to the patient to be administered. Even the drug delivery device is part of the process.

The Current Problems with Compounding

Compounding is an effective way to ensure patients get the intravenous medications they need in the proper dosages to treat their conditions. As is the case with all areas of the medical field, though, certain problems exist with the current processes. For one, miscommunications can be a major hurdle. Secondly, human error plays a significant role in detracting from the potential benefits of compounding IV solutions. From improper labeling to inadequate dosages, any mistake along the chain of command can cause serious problems. In some cases, the medications are even mixed improperly, which can lead to more dangers.

Eliminating the Common Problems

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Technology has brought about numerous breakthroughs in the world of intravenous compounding. Simply entering the prescriptions into a computer and forwarding them to hospital pharmacies has thwarted much of the breakdown in communication and sped up the process of getting the medications to the patients. These days, hospitals must follow strict protocol when delivering the medications as well, such as scanning patients’ ID bracelets and the medications being given before administering them. All those measures also apply to compounded medications.

Additionally, automation is further eliminating the potential for human error in compounded IV solutions. Prescriptions are now being entered into automated equipment, and the machinery takes over from there. Each step, from blending the proper medications in the right proportions to filling the IV bags and labeling, can be completed by this type of equipment. Furthermore, the process is now largely being completed in-house rather than off-site. This makes matters even faster and more accurate.

Boosting the Benefits of Compounding for Patients

Compounding offers several benefits for patients. It allows them to gain the advantages of having specific blends of medications developed to suit their unique needs rather than having to rely on one-size-fits-all solutions. Still, inadequate communication and human error have placed a damper on the potential advantages of this process. Technology has the power to remove the common roadblocks and ensure patients are able to reap the full rewards of compounding. Following best practices for the process aids in guaranteeing complete safety and accuracy when providing compounded IV solutions to patients.

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