Booming JPPR turns attention to patient safety

New evidence supporting pharmacists’ pivotal role improving patient care in Australian hospitals was published today, with research in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research (JPPR) showing pharmacist-led education could help reduce medication-related errors by more than one-third.

The findings, revealed in the February JPPR by pharmacists and physicians from a major Victorian metropolitan hospital, show regular targeted feedback and education from a clinical pharmacist to small groups of junior doctors reduces prescription writing errors, compared to tailored e-learning support.

Dr Jared Gursanscky, corresponding author on the study, says recent research has shown medication-related errors cost the Australian healthcare system an estimated $680m per year.

‘Prescribing errors are a common and known cause of adverse patient outcomes – we found targeted pharmacist-led learning reduced the rate of errors by 36% compared to education without regular pharmacist involvement.

‘Informal feedback between these professionals is common in hospitals – our findings show there could be merit in formalising a program of pharmacist feedback and education.’

In a second research study, a team of pharmacists gathered and analysed survey data from frontline clinical staff at eight Victorian hospitals, revealing transitions to new technology require concurrent vigilance to minimise risk of errors.

Corresponding author Melita Van de Vreede says while advantages of electronic medication management systems (EMMS) are clear, ongoing education and training and pharmacists’ vigilance remains crucial to optimal patient care.

‘A third of comments highlighted clarity and legibility of information as a key benefit of EMMS, triple the rate of response for the next noted advantage.

‘There were positives in the negative responses, too; of the three key issues identified – incorrect patient selection, incorrect dose scheduling and issues around medication administration documentation due to misreading orders, dose schedules or incorrect sign-off – we believe all could be addressed through more intuitive software design that decreases complexity of menus and displays.’

Ms Van de Vreede and co-author Anne McGrath are members of the Medication Safety Practice Group, within SHPA’s 24 Specialty Practice streams.

The first JPPR issue for 2018, which is now available online, free to members of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), comes amid skyrocketing readership for the scientific pharmacy journal. Full-text downloads in 2017 up 29 per cent on 2016, and a huge 67 per cent on 2015, the first year of its partnership with global publishing company Wiley.

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