Pharmacists join doctors and patients to slash medication-related errors in hospitals

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Pharmacists will partner with patients and doctors in a new national project to reduce patient medication errors that frequently occur during hospital stays.

Pharmacists join doctors and patients to slash medication-related errors in hospitals

Image Credit: University of South Australia

By bringing pharmacists into the fold to collaborate with doctors and patients on an electronic medication and prescription model, the project team expects to see a marked reduction in the number of medication errors being made in hospitals.

The $1.4 million Federal Government-funded project, announced today, will be led by Dr Jacinta Johnson, a University of South Australia pharmacist, who is also responsible for driving research development across SA public hospital pharmacies.

Dr Johnson says the aim of the project is to improve the quality of care for people aged 65 years and older, who experience three times as many medication errors during hospital stays than younger patients.

“Medication errors are the most frequent and preventable mistakes being made in hospitals today,” Dr Johnson says.

“Across Australia, research shows two medication errors are made on admission to hospital for every three patients, and an error occurs 1 in 10 times a medication is administered. Most of these affect older patients, who are at much higher risk.”

The CARe-MED study will implement and evaluate a patient-centred, partnered medication charting and deprescribing model in hospitals using electronic medical records.

This work will build on a range of paper-based pharmacist charting models that have been evaluated in Australia, demonstrating significant reductions in medication errors (from 66% to 3.6%), cutting average hospital stays by 10% and reducing the cost per admission by $726.

“It is important to validate the partnered charting model of care in digital settings as electronic prescribing is known to introduce new error types and patterns,” Dr Johnson says.

The new study will advance current evidence by:

  • exploring the impact of partnered pharmacist charting using electronic medical records;
  • assessing the impact of partnered pharmacist charting on medication-related harm directly;
  • examining the impact of integrated partnered deprescribing on hospital discharge;
  • measuring how clinicians’ work is altered through partnered pharmacist medication charting.

Dr Johnson says while some medication-related errors are minor, in extreme cases they can cause permanent disability or even death.

Our partnered charting and deprescribing model aims to minimise this risk and could be scaled to support millions of older people hospitalised with varying health conditions.”

Dr Jacinta Johnson, Pharmacist, University of South Australia 

The model will be evaluated at metropolitan and rural hospitals in South Australia and Queensland over the next four years in collaboration with SA Pharmacy, Metro South Health and the University of Queensland.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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