SHPA releases new standard for geriatric medicine pharmacists

Monday, 24 February, 2020

SHPA releases new standard for geriatric medicine pharmacists

A new standard has highlighted the need for pharmacists with specific geriatric medicine expertise to work as part of interdisciplinary teams to improve the safety and quality of care for older Australians in hospitals, residential aged-care facilities and in the community.

Developed by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) — with input from the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) — the standards include the four central pillars of optimal geriatric pharmacy care: avoiding and reducing inappropriate polypharmacy; preventing adverse drug reactions; ensuring safe medicine administration; and continuity of medication management during care transitions.

Standard lead author and immediate past Chair of SHPA’s Geriatric Medicine Leadership Committee Dr Rohan Elliott said evidence from randomised controlled trials tells us clinical pharmacy services improve medication management and safety for older people in all care settings and during transitions of care.

“Comprehensive, patient-centred medication reviews and assessment of patients’ medication management are essential roles for geriatric medicine pharmacists.

“In this area, deprescribing has become a major focus. Along with medication regimen simplification, deprescribing can improve medicines adherence and reduce treatment burden for older people and their carers, ultimately improving comfort and quality of life among this vulnerable cohort.”

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said the standard of practice forms part of SHPA’s concerted response to a crisis in medication safety in older Australians.

“The high prevalence of polypharmacy in older people is an urgent concern; more than 50% of adult hospital bed-days in Australia are occupied by people aged 65 years and over, and more than 50% of medicines dispensed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are used to care for Australians in this age bracket.

“This key document builds on our response to November’s Royal Commission interim report — which highlighted an urgent need to increase funding for medication management programs in residential aged care — and comes as we work to harness our members’ expertise in contributing to the goals of medicines safety as a national health priority area,” she said.

“In addition to the core goals of a geriatric medicine pharmacy service highlighted in this standard, on behalf of members, SHPA reiterates its call for specialty geriatric pharmacist roles to be embedded in residential and community aged care, as these experts are best equipped to identify and manage medication-related issues and reduce harm, while ensuring identification of deprescribing opportunities and high-quality clinical handover as patients move between care settings.

“In particular, such pharmacists are uniquely positioned to determine if antipsychotic medicine prescribing is appropriate, an area in which we are failing older Australians, as revealed by the Royal Commission’s damning interim findings.”

Image credit: © Viewfinder

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