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Gail Martin, RN, MBA
Patient Safety Coordinator
Citizens Medical Center
Victoria, TX

Hospitals aren't known for being quiet places. More often, they're chaotic, loud, and filled with distractions—which can lead to dangerous medication errors. Gail Martin, RN, MBA, patient safety coordinator at Citizen's Medical Center, talks about her hospital's "No-Talk Zone," a designated quiet area designed to help eliminate distractions during medication administration.

Martin: A few years ago, U.S. Pharmacopeia and other organizations started talking about distractions and how bad they are and how you should create a quiet zone. It became something that we wanted to look at.

The no-talk zone is a little area in front of our Pyxis machines-our automated medication-dispensing cabinets. We have 22 machines, and we put a sign in front of them that says, "No talk zone. Please do not disturb the nurse at this location."

I'm not going to tell you everybody loved the new rule, but I think they are all aware of it, and they respect each other when they are in front of Pyxis machines. I do an analysis of every medication error, and very few ever have "frequent interruptions" as a reason.

This is how you should design your hospital. It's evidence-based. We've looked at medication errors, and we know that this is a problem. When you build a new hospital or you're thinking of remodeling, the no-talk zone should be one of the changes.

Molly Rowe

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