Kristin R. Melton, MD, 's research centers on improving patient safety in intensive care environments, with specific interests in improving medication safety in the intensive care environment and reducing unplanned extubations. Medication errors have been identified as the most common medical error for both children and adults and account for significant harm to patients. Working in collaboration with colleagues in biomedical informatics, she helped develop, test and validate automated computer algorithms to identify medication administration errors in the intensive care environment for high-risk medications including narcotics, vasoactive medications, insulin and parenteral nutrition. They have been able to integrate infusion pump data into our retrospective algorithms to recognize a significant source of errors, and they are now utilizing their algorithms in real-time to identify errors and mitigate them to reduce the time patients are exposed to potential harm. Their algorithms demonstrated significantly better sensitivity for error recognition when compared to incident reporting and trigger tools, and they hold the promise of real-time use for the immediate recognition and mitigation of significant errors.
For unplanned extubations, she lead an improvement team that has focused on standardizing their processes in their intensive care environments by standardizing securement methods, standardizing chest xrays, and focusing on the use of two people for all interventions for an intubated patient. With these approaches, they have significantly reduced rates of patient harm by reducing unplanned extubations.