Affinity Living Group has launched a new initiative aimed at reducing medication errors.

Medication technicians are donning red satin sashes throughout the day as they disperse medication to residents. The sashes have the words “do not disturb” written across the front of them.

“The visual reminder of ‘do not disturb’ will not only visually give a clue to the staff, residents and families that they are not to be disturbed on med pass, but also gives a sense of pride that, ‘When I don on this sash, I am to focus and take pride in the work that I’m doing,’ which is delivering the medications that are essential to the care of our residents,” said Lindsey Starnes, vice president of provider engagement and innovation for ALG.

AFL piloted the program at one community and is rolling it out to two more communities, with the goal of having sashes in place at all 120 ALG communities in June.

“Research has shown that med techs are typically a target of interruption as they’re delivering the medicines, which then causes medication error increases,” Starnes said. “Studies have shown that these sashes reduce those errors by about 50% in six months, and those rates are sustainable long term.”

A med pass, conducted several times throughout the day, involves more than just what might be inferred from the name.

“The goal is to allow the med techs the ability to wash their hands, get the proper medication, turn down the TV or radio in the resident’s room, turn up the lights, double-check the resident’s condition or change in condition, discuss the medications with the patient, administer the medication, document the delivery, and wash their hands again before taking off the sash,” Starnes said. “We don’t want this process to be interrupted.”

Posters explaining the initiative have been placed throughout ALG’s “Red Means Med” communities, and residents and families are being informed of the meaning behind the new sashes.

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