Skip to content
News & Updates from Niagara Health

Share This Page

Enhanced anesthesia tray process transforms medication standardization at Niagara Health, improving patient safety

Posted Oct 20th, 2023

From left: Kari Matthews, Pharmacy Technician; Dr. Emad Maximous, Anesthesiologist; Karmen Paulin, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor; Natalie Doucet, Interim Director, Women, Babies and Children’s Unit, and Alicia Niven, Manager, Pharmacy Practice. 

Niagara Health has recently implemented a new anesthesia tray exchange program aimed at standardizing how high-alert medications are delivered to care areas supported by anesthesiologists.

This innovative approach ensures a consistent and precise distribution of medications, reducing the risk of errors during medication administration and enhancing overall patient care.

Traditionally, anesthesiologists faced the challenge of managing a wide variety of medications in varying concentrations and packaging formats. Recognizing the issue, team members from pharmacy, professional practice, surgical and obstetrical collaborated with anesthesia providers to develop a streamlined and standardized tray process with set exchange times in each of the designated care areas.

Collaboration between different care teams was integral to the success of this new initiative, explains Pharmacy Practice Manager Alicia Niven.

“The new process involved optimizing the availability of medications for use during anesthesia procedures while ensuring standardization across all locations,” she says.

Ensuring that each anesthesia medication tray has the same physical layout simplifies medication management, eliminates inconsistencies, and maximizes patient safety during anesthesia procedures.

After the layout was established, pharmacists and pharmacy technician leads created physical mock-ups of the trays with medications and all required labelling. A schedule for tray exchange was established to ensure that trays have sufficient medication quantities at all times.

Anesthesia trays are used in all care areas support by anesthesiologists, including operating rooms, endoscopy rooms, labour and delivery operating suites and in the gynecology clinic.

“The implementation of an exchange tray system adds a standardized approach to the distribution and utilization of anesthesia medication,” says Dr. Donald DuVall, Chief, Anesthesia. “We are grateful for the support and collaboration of the Pharmacy Program to make this important practice a reality.”

The new process enables anaesthesia providers to deliver consistent care, reducing the potential for errors and ultimately improving patient outcomes.

In addition to patient safety, the standardized anaesthesia tray process offers multiple benefits, such as streamlined inventory management, enhanced efficiency, and effective communication among care teams, explains Susan Cubelic, Director of Pharmacy.

The new system enables care teams to work seamlessly, improving co-ordination and reducing delays during surgical procedures.

“Niagara Health’s dedication to patient safety through innovations like the standardized tray process demonstrates our commitment to continuously improving and providing the highest quality of care for patients,” Cubelic says.

Niagara Health System