New project to reduce medication errors in hospitals


Wednesday, 14 February, 2024

New project to reduce medication errors in hospitals

A $1.4 million project will see pharmacists, patients and doctors come together to reduce patient medication errors that occur during hospital stays.

Led by Dr Jacinta Johnson, a University of South Australia pharmacist who is also responsible for driving research development across SA public hospital pharmacies, the project expects to see a marked reduction in the number of medication errors using an electronic medication and prescription model.

The model will be evaluated at metropolitan and rural hospitals in South Australia and Queensland over the next four years in collaboration with SA Pharmacy, Metro South Health and the University of Queensland.

“Medication errors are the most frequent and preventable mistakes being made in hospitals today,” Johnson said.

“Across Australia, research shows two medication errors are made on admission to hospital for every three patients, and an error occurs 1 in 10 times a medication is administered. Most of these affect older patients, who are at much higher risk.”

The project aims to improve the quality of care for people aged 65 years and older, who experience three times as many medication errors during hospital stays than younger patients, Johnson said.

The CARe-MED study will implement and evaluate a patient-centred, partnered medication charting and deprescribing model in hospitals using electronic medical records.

This work will build on a range of paper-based pharmacist charting models that have been evaluated in Australia, demonstrating significant reductions in medication errors (from 66% to 3.6%), cutting average hospital stays by 10% and reducing the cost per admission by $726.

“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,” Johnson said.

The new study will advance current evidence by: exploring the impact of partnered pharmacist charting using electronic medical records; assessing the impact of partnered pharmacist charting on medication-related harm directly; examining the impact of integrated partnered deprescribing on hospital discharge; measuring how clinicians’ work is altered through partnered pharmacist medication charting.

Johnson said while some medication-related errors are minor, in extreme cases they can cause permanent disability or even death.

“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.”

Image credit: iStock.com/MJ_Prototype

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