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News Release

ISMP Announces 23rd Annual Cheers Award Recipients

HORSHAM, PA—The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is proud to announce its 23rd Annual Cheers Awards winners. The awards ceremony will be held as a virtual event on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. The ISMP Cheers Awards honor individuals, organizations, and companies that have set a standard of excellence for others to follow in the prevention of medication errors and adverse drug events; for more information, visit:

The winners of this year’s awards are:

Mary E. Burkhardt, MS, RPh, FASHP, FSMSP, National Pharmacy Executive, VA National Center for Patient Safety, Ann Arbor, MI
Mary Burkhardt is being honored with a Volunteer Award for her decades of altruistic service to ISMP. She has participated in many ISMP programs, projects, and advisory groups, and has contributed valuable suggestions and recommendations. Mary authored two chapters in ISMP’s 2006 book Medication Errors, and worked on the development, pilot testing, and use of ISMP’s medication safety self assessments. She also has mentored ISMP fellows as well as other practitioners just starting out in their careers and is often called upon for advice or questions. Mary has been dedicated to keeping the lines of communication open with ISMP, often taking the initiative to reach out and share knowledge, and has been a valuable asset in helping ISMP achieve its mission.

Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority, Talihina, OK
The Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA), located in rural southeastern Oklahoma, is receiving a Cheers Award for employing a full-time medication safety officer in a unique practice setting, enabling the implementation of a wide range of medication safety initiatives. After ISMP published a white paper in 2018 encouraging all healthcare organizations to establish a full-time medication safety position, CNHSA expanded its auxiliary position to a full-time, dedicated professional to make past safety achievements more widespread and sustainable. Establishment of a full-time medication safety officer position also helped CNHSA create an extensive and proactive improvement process and medication safety program unsurpassed in other tribal health organizations. CNHSA now serves as a strong advocate for dedicating significant resources to medication safety in rural healthcare systems.

Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton, PA
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery is being recognized for development and implementation of a novel screening tool, the Einstein Montgomery Opioid-Induced Ventilatory Impairment Assessment (EMOVIA©). There are other screening tools available to assess issues with ventilation of patients on opioids, but the recommended actions are physician driven. EMOVIA© interventions are nurse-driven and immediate, allowing nurses to treat patients in real time, and empowering them to intervene immediately based on policy and protocol. EMOVIA© is the only tool that supports the use of continuous electronic monitoring, including capnography, which is considered the gold standard for managing patients at risk for opioid-induced ventilatory impairment. Implementation of EMOVIA© at the medical center has helped code blues for medical-surgical patients receiving opioids remain at zero and reduced unplanned intubations by 55% in this same patient population. The organization has shared its processes and lessons learned with the healthcare community at the regional, state, and national levels.

HCA West Florida Division, Tampa, FL
The HCA West Florida Division is receiving a Subscriber Award for consistent distribution and use of information provided in ISMP newsletters, and the resulting improvements in medication safety across their 15 hospitals. The division’s interdisciplinary Medication Safety Committee has been instrumental in implementing key safety strategies from the ISMP acute care newsletter action agenda as well as ISMP guidelines and assessment tools. Currently the ISMP Targeted Medication Safety Best Practices for Hospitals (TMSBPs) are being used as a guide to perform medication safety audits and medication safety rounds in nursing units within each facility to identify vulnerable areas. In addition, promethazine has been removed from the formulary in all facilities per ISMP’s recommendation, order sets and policies have been standardized, and a quarterly system-wide newsletter has been created to communicate important information and progress in medication safety improvement to staff.

Tina Suess, MHA, BSN, RN-BC, CPHIMS, CPPS, Manager of Medication Safety Integration, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Lancaster, PA
Tina Suess is receiving a Cheers Award for her exceptional leadership in the healthcare information technology industry on a national level, as well as in her own community hospital. Over her career, she has become known as a forward-thinking expert on several medication use technologies, including barcoding access across the entire medication use process and smart pump-electronic health record interoperability. She has participated in alpha- and beta-testing for emerging technologies, conducted research, and shared her knowledge through numerous presentations and journal publications. Tina also has provided ISMP with input on the challenges and achievements possible with medication-related technologies, using her unique perspective on technology adaptation in a real-life setting.

The George DiDomizio Industry Award was established in 2012 in memory of a late ISMP Board member who advocated for greater cooperation between the medical industry and the broader healthcare community to promote safer drug products. The award is being given this year to Mary Baker, PharmD, MBA, FASPEN, for consistently serving as a resource for ISMP regarding pharmaceutical product manufacturing. Dr. Baker has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, and is currently the Senior Director, Sterile Injectables, in Pfizer’s Biopharmaceuticals Group. She has provided ISMP with essential insight from the industry side and helped gather information and direct ISMP to credible sources for topics outside of her area of expertise. Dr. Baker has served as Vice Chair of the USP Nomenclature and Labeling Expert Committee, and holds an adjunct faculty appointment at Purdue University College of Pharmacy. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including USP’s Award of Recognition, Purdue College of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumna, and the Purdue Pharmacy Women’s Leadership Award.

The ISMP Lifetime Achievement Award is being presented to David Cousins, BPharm, MSc, FRPharmS, PhD, for his ongoing work as a true pioneer in medication safety. Dr. Cousins has tirelessly pursued development of a safe medication policy agenda in the United Kingdom (UK) that has since been modelled around the world. As chief pharmacist at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary in Derby, he played a leading role in raising awareness of medication safety in the UK, and together with Dr. David Upton, wrote a monthly column on medication errors in the journal Hospital Pharmacy Practice. Dr. Cousins served as head of safe medication practice at the former National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and then NHS England for twelve years, helping develop the National Reporting and Learning System and issue patient safety alerts. He also was a key author of the “Design for Safety” publication series, illustrating how good design can help minimize risk to patients arising from labeling and packaging of medicines. Dr. Cousins authored a 2014 patient safety alert requiring every NHS organization in England to appoint a medication safety officer. While working for Healthcare at Home, he designed and implemented a comprehensive safety incident reporting and learning system for the home care setting in 2017. He is a founding member and committee member of the International Medication Safety Network (IMSN). During his retirement Dr. Cousins has been advising and publishing reports for the patient charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AVMA). He has won many prestigious awards, including an ISMP Cheers Award in 1999 and three lifetime achievement awards from The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, The UK Clinical Pharmacy Association, and the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists.

Journalists who wish to attend the virtual awards ceremony should contact Renee Brehio at 614-376-0212 or

About the Institute for Safe Medication Practices

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is the nation’s first 501c (3) nonprofit organization devoted entirely to preventing medication errors. ISMP is known and respected for its medication safety information. For more than 25 years, it also has served as a vital force for progress. ISMP’s advocacy work alone has resulted in numerous necessary changes in clinical practice, public policy, and drug labeling and packaging. Among its many initiatives, ISMP runs the only national voluntary practitioner medication error reporting program, publishes newsletters with real-time error information read and trusted throughout the global healthcare community, and offers a wide range of unique educational programs, tools, and guidelines. In 2020, ISMP formally affiliated with ECRI to create one of the largest healthcare quality and safety entities in the world, and ECRI and the ISMP PSO is a federally certified patient safety organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As an independent watchdog organization, ISMP receives no advertising revenue and depends entirely on charitable donations, educational grants, newsletter subscriptions, and volunteer efforts to pursue its life-saving work. Visit and follow @ismp1 to learn more.

For more information, contact:
Laurie Menyo, Director of Strategic Communications
(610) 825-6000, ext. 5310