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Dedicated to medication safety

In 2009, as part of an organisation-wide commitment to maximise safety related to the use of medications in hospital, Mater’s Pharmacy Services team developed a specialised Medication Safety & Quality Unit.

The unit was created from existing staff resources after a survey of the Mater hospital group, undertaken by Pharmacy Services in 2008 utilising an internationally validated tool, identified opportunities to optimise Mater’s coordinated and focused approach to medication safety.

Director of Mater Pharmacy Services, Steve Parry-Jones said the unit—which he described as a “fluid resource that monitors trends in incidents and errors and empowers pharmacists and other clinical team members to implement corrective medication safety strategies on a daily basis”—was designed to make Mater the safest health care provider it can be.

“It is well recognised in industry that safety requires continuous improvement and with the implementation of this strategy we are taking a more proactive approach to the management of medication safety,” Mr Parry-Jones said.

In Australia, medicines account for up to 20 per cent of all adverse events that occur in health care. In America, the situation is worse, with errors involving the use of medications comprising the largest single cause of hospital medical errors.

Mr Parry-Jones said medication use within hospitals was a complex multidisciplinary process where errors could occur at any stage or in any site within the health system from prescribing, to administrating, to monitoring the medication.

“No single intervention can reduce the risk of medication error in all areas of the system. Therefore, attempts to reduce medication errors must encompass effective strategies that target all stages,” Mr Parry-Jones said.

“It is essential that effective strategies target all participants in the system from doctors at the point of prescribing, through to pharmacists who appraise and dispense each order, nurses at the point of administration and manufacturers in regard to product presentations and storage.”

“Mater’s Medication Safety and Quality Unit engage the pharmacists who are on the wards from Monday to Friday to uphold stringent checks and balances, constantly monitor the use of medications and work with doctors and nurses to ensure that safety is a focus at all times,” he said.

“This process also ensures that the pharmacists operating on the wards deliver consistent medication safety messages in a manner which would not be achieved by one small group alone.”

“One of the unit’s chief goals is to create a culture of medication safety through promotion, communication and education of medication safety principles across all Mater staff,” Mr Parry-Jones said.

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