Reduction in Chemotherapy Mixing Errors Using Six Sigma: Illinois CancerCare Experience
+ Author Affiliations
- Corresponding author: Pankaj Kumar, MD, Illinois CancerCare, 8940 N. Wood Sage Rd, Peoria, IL 61615; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purpose: Chemotherapy mixing errors (CTMRs), although rare, have serious consequences. Illinois CancerCare is a large practice with multiple satellite offices. The goal of this study was to reduce the number of CTMRs using Six Sigma methods.
Patients and Methods: A Six Sigma team consisting of five participants (registered nurses and pharmacy technicians [PTs]) was formed. The team had 10 hours of Six Sigma training in the DMAIC (ie, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process. Measurement of errors started from the time the CT order was verified by the PT to the time of CT administration by the nurse. Data collection included retrospective error tracking software, system audits, and staff surveys.
Results: Root causes of CTMRs included inadequate knowledge of CT mixing protocol, inconsistencies in checking methods, and frequent changes in staffing of clinics. Initial CTMRs (n = 33,259) constituted 0.050%, with 77% of these errors affecting patients. The action plan included checklists, education, and competency testing. The postimplementation error rate (n = 33,376, annualized) over a 3-month period was reduced to 0.019%, with only 15% of errors affecting patients. Initial Sigma was calculated at 4.2; this process resulted in the improvement of Sigma to 5.2, representing a 100-fold reduction. Financial analysis demonstrated a reduction in annualized loss of revenue (administration charges and drug wastage) from $11,537.95 (Medicare Average Sales Price) before the start of the project to $1,262.40.
Conclusion: The Six Sigma process is a powerful technique in the reduction of CTMRs.