Background: Chemotherapy ordering and administration, in which errors have potentially severe consequences, was quantitatively and qualitatively evaluated by employing process formalism (or formal process definition), a technique derived from software engineering, to elicit and
rigorously describe the process, after which validation techniques were applied to confirm the accuracy of the described process. Methods: The chemotherapy ordering and administration process, including exceptional situations and individuals' recognition of and responses to those
situations, was elicited through informal, unstructured interviews with members of an interdisciplinary team. The process description (or process definition), written in a notation developed for software quality assessment purposes, guided process validation (which consisted of direct observations
and semistructured interviews to confirm the elicited details for the treatment plan portion of the process). Results: The overall process definition yielded 467 steps; 207 steps (44%) were dedicated to handling 59 exceptional situations. Validation yielded 82 unique process events
(35 new expected but not yet described steps, 16 new exceptional situations, and 31 new steps in response to exceptional situations). Process participants actively altered the process as ambiguities and conflicts were discovered by the elicitation and validation components of the study. Chemotherapy
error rates declined significantly during and after the project, which was conducted from October 2007 through August 2008. Discussion: Each elicitation method and the subsequent validation discussions contributed uniquely to understanding the chemotherapy treatment plan review
process, supporting rapid adoption of changes, improved communication regarding the process, and ensuing error reduction.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2012
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Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.
Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety