Patients at risk as errors found in prescriptions

SPSP has now been awarded 450,000 as part of efforts to reduce errors in prescriptions. Picture: Ian Rutherford
SPSP has now been awarded 450,000 as part of efforts to reduce errors in prescriptions. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A BID to reduce the number of patients in Scotland suffering because of mistakes in prescriptions has been launched.

It is estimated up to 5 per cent of prescriptions contain errors which can in the most serious cases lead to patients having to be admitted to hospital.

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) has now been awarded £450,000 as part of efforts to reduce errors in prescriptions by getting pharmacists and GPs to work together more closely.

The SPSP, run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, has been awarded the funding over two years from charity the Health Foundation in the hope of cutting errors which could affect patients.

Those behind the project believe that the role pharmacists play in their local communities in improving patient safety has yet to be fully harnessed, so they are now working on ways in which their skills could be more widely used.

This includes putting them in charge of patients’ medication after they are discharged from hospital and continuing their recovery at home.

Jill Gillies, who leads the SPSP in Primary Care team, said that by forging closer links between GP surgeries and community pharmacists, prescribing discrepancies which can happen, for example when patients are discharged from hospital, could be picked up and the potential harm to patients greatly reduced.

She said: “Under this initiative, the pharmacists would take charge of undertaking accurate and consistent medication monitoring. This could happen after someone has been discharged from hospital, or when someone is prescribed a high-risk medicine, such as [blood-thinning drug] warfarin.”

The SPSP project is one of only ten selected from more than 100 applicants across the UK and the only successful Scottish applicant to take part in the Health Foundation’s Closing the Gap in Patient Safety Programme, worth £4 million in total.

It will be tested in both rural and urban locations before being evaluated by NHS Education for Scotland and the University of Strathclyde to see if it should be rolled out nationally.

Dr Jo Bibby, director of strategy at the Health Foundation, said: “We are confident the new programme will be welcomed extremely positively by all within the healthcare sector and will make a valuable contribution in reducing harm to patients in Scotland.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland has backed moves to get GPs to work more closely with pharmacists to improve the care of patients.

Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs Committee, said: “People are living longer and have more complex care needs and we are trying to provide more care closer to where the patient lives,” he said.

“There are more than two million people living with a long-term condition in Scotland and management of these patients is often based on pharmaceutical care.”