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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

A multimillion-dollar crusade against medication errors

Health Industry Hub | February 22, 2024 |

Pharma News: In an ambitious move to enhance patient safety, a collaborative project valued at $1.4 million has been launched, focusing on minimising medication errors within hospital settings. Spearheaded by Dr Jacinta Johnson, a pharmacist at the University of South Australia and a key figure in research development for SA public hospital pharmacies, the project is setting new standards in healthcare safety.

The initiative aims to leverage an electronic medication and prescription model to significantly reduce the frequency of medication errors during hospital admissions. This model will undergo rigorous evaluation in both metropolitan and rural hospitals across South Australia and Queensland. The project is a joint effort, bringing together SA Pharmacy, Metro South Health, and the University of Queensland, and is set to unfold over the next four years.

“Medication errors are the most frequent and preventable mistakes being made in hospitals today,” Dr Johnson remarked, shedding light on the gravity of the issue. She highlighted alarming statistics from Australian research, which shows that two medication errors occur upon admission for every three patients, and errors occur in 1 in 10 medication administrations, predominantly affecting older patients.

The project, known as the CARe-MED study, specifically targets improving care for individuals aged 65 years and older, who are three times more likely to encounter medication errors during hospital stays compared to younger patients. It will introduce and assess a patient-centred, partnered medication charting and deprescribing model utilising electronic medical records.

Building upon previous research that showed a dramatic reduction in medication errors – from 66% to 3.6% – and a 10% decrease in average hospital stays through paper-based pharmacist charting models, this project aims to replicate and enhance those successes in a digital environment.

“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 explained, underlining the innovative aspect of the study.

Dr Johnson is optimistic about the project’s potential to improve patient care, stating “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.”

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