Why hospital pharmacist to patient ratios matter

SHPA has again affirmed that the primary consideration in supporting Australia’s hospital pharmacy departments is patient-centred care ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines.

Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald reported the staff turnover rate in Canberra Hospital Pharmacy Department between January 1 2017 and June 30 2018 this year ‘sits at 32 per cent’. On Monday, SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels spoke to ABC Canberra Mornings host Adam Shirley about patient ratios, staff conditions and the need for pharmacist support.

‘The big issue to focus on is patient safety, which is foremost in everything we’re looking to achieve in hospital pharmacy, ensuring all patients a receiving the correct medicines in the right doses and getting the appropriate care.’

Ms Michaels repeated SHPA’s recommendation of a minimum of one hospital pharmacist in place for every 30 patients, a ratio that has ‘blown out’ in the ACT, and confirmed working conditions could be a factor.

‘What’s important is ensuring patients have access to highly skilled expertise during their admission, treatment and discharge from hospital – if pay conditions are a factor impacting this then, as at any workplace, this should be taken into consideration.

‘Upon admission to hospital the average person is taking eight medications, so the potential for error for that individual if they can’t be focused on by a hospital pharmacist is really high. That’s what SHPA wants to see the focus come back to in the ACT: we want to see our professional hospital pharmacists supported to the best of their ability, to do what they need to do for their patients.’