28/11/2012 - RPS Wales conference a showcase for pharmacists' impact on patient safety
Pharmacists and GPs must take every opportunity to collaborate locally to improve patient safety through Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) and the Discharge Medicine Review (DMR) service. That was a consistent message running through the RPS Wales medicines safety conference held on 20th November.
The conference, entitled Medicines Safety: Knowing the risks, plugging the gaps, brought together over seventy delegates including pharmacists from all sectors, GPs, nurses, physiotherapists and representatives from patient groups. It provided an opportunity to focus on the importance of pharmaceutical care in keeping patients safe as they travel through the NHS and as their medication needs change.
MURs and DMRs emerged throughout the event as some of the greatest opportunities pharmacists have to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risks to patients associated with taking medicines. They were identified as vital ‘tools’ for engaging and educating patients about their medicines and importantly ensuring their medicines are accurately recorded when patients move between care settings. Collaboration between pharmacists and GPs was also cited as a positive and important part of MURs and DMRs, ensuring increased confidence for health professionals working across different health sectors in managing a patient’s medicine, particularly for those with complex medication needs.
At the conference, delegates heard from a mix of speakers including the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Wales, Professor Roger Walker, the Director of Community Health Councils in Wales, Carol Lamyman-Davies, and RPS Director for Wales, Paul Gimson. The messages were clear; there is too much harm in the NHS from medicines and the expertise of pharmacists in medicines management must be harnessed to improve patient safety while taking medicines and in particular when moving between care settings. The importance of communicating with patients and taking time to understand their medication needs was also seen as an area where pharmacists can make a significant difference to patient safety.
The audience heard examples from community and hospital pharmacists where positive steps have been taken to reduce the risks from medicines, particularly high risk medicines and settings. The examples demonstrated how safety can be improved by using the 1000 Lives Quality Improvement Guide methodology.
Delegates heard how simple changes, such as redesigning drug charts to improve accuracy in recording the dosage of medicines, can improve medication safety in hospital settings and in the transfer of care from hospital to the community.
Commenting on the success of the conference, RPS Director for Wales, Paul Gimson said “If there is one clear message from this event, it is that pharmacists are making a significant contribution to patient safety in taking medicines. What we have heard clearly through the showcasing of examples of practice is that pharmacists can take a lead in medicines safety and can help to develop the environment where collaboration and trust will improve the patient experience at all stages of the patient pathway”.