HealthDay News — Color-coded compartmentalized “rainbow trays” used for anesthetic drug preparation and storage may improve patient safety, according to a study published online January 3 in Anaesthesia.

Dalal S. Almghairbi, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed the potential safety impact of using a simple color-coded tray for anesthetic drug preparation and storage. Assessment included observation of 30 cases (10 with standard trays and 20 with rainbow trays) as well as 20 semistructured interviews with the anesthetists using the rainbow trays. 

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The researchers found that using standard, single-compartment trays enabled quick, cheap, and portable drug preparation and storage but was linked to potential or actual harmful errors, such as syringe swaps. Anesthetists reported that rainbow trays were easy to use and effective at the 3 observation sites. In addition, they reported that the rainbow trays aided drug identification and separation, making them likely to reduce drug error and increase patient safety.

“Further research is needed into [the rainbow trays’] effect on the prevalence of drug error,” the authors write.

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