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Published on 26 May 2016

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Hospital managers urged to support systems to reduce medication error

A headline result received from the almost 1000 responses from 33 countries is a lack of support from hospital managers for the implementation of computerised decision support systems to reduce the risk of medication errors.

 

A headline result received from the almost 1000 responses from 33 countries is a lack of support from hospital managers for the implementation of computerised decision support systems to reduce the risk of medication errors.

 

‘Computerised decision support systems’ refers to hospital wide software applications with prescribing support software and other functionalities designed to tackle common causes of error. Such systems reduce risk by eliminating hand written transcriptions, providing semi-automated error-checking possibilities, drug dose recommendations, and alerts for serious drug–drug reactions. They can also be linked to life saving systems such as bedside scanning of medicines to reduce administration error, specialised hospital pharmacy software to support pharmacy preparations and compounding, and more.

 

The latest findings emerged as part of a report into the extent to which the 44 European Statements of Hospital Pharmacy are being met in practice. Amongst the statements the October-December 2015 survey focused upon was Statement 5.5 “Hospital pharmacists should help to decrease the risk of medication errors by disseminating evidence-based approaches to error reduction including computerised decision support.” This topic emerged as one of the most challenging of the 23 Statements surveyed. Implementation of computerised support goes beyond the scope of what hospital pharmacies can achieve alone. Instead, a whole system project management approach is required, including prescribers (typically doctors), pharmacists and the administrators of medicines in hospital (typically nurses), as well as health system managers and budget planners, at local, national and regional levels.

 

Responding to the results, EAHP President Joan Peppard remarked: “These survey results provide clear and current information about hospital pharmacy development and where activity must be focused in order to achieve implementation of the European Statements. It is clear much work remains to convince those with responsibility for hospital management of the safety benefit and other returns available from computerised decision support systems. When it comes to leveraging technology for patient safety, progress does not happen by itself. Hospital pharmacists, with support from fellow healthcare professionals and patients, must advocate for better. Knowing that technologies for reducing medication error exist, and that the evidence of their benefit is out there, the ethics of our profession demands our action.

 

Looking ahead to the impact of the survey results for professional development, Tony West, Statement Implementation Project Director, commented: “What is clear from early reflections on statement implementation is across Europe hospital pharmacies face similar difficulties in securing take up of new technologies. Computerised decision support systems to prevent medication error are but one example. Keele University’s report advises sharing business cases where success has been achieved, as well as strategies for winning hearts and minds of other clinicians and managers. EAHP’s statement implementation team are already taking up these recommendations.



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