Wednesday, September 20, 2006

High-Tech Pharmacies are Safer for Patients

Using bar coding in the hospital pharmacy may help prevent dangerous prescription errors, according to a new study.

Reporting in the Sept. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston compared the rates of medication dispensing errors before and after bar coding technology was implemented at the hospital pharmacy.

With the new technology, every dose of medication was affixed with a bar code, and these codes were scanned in as an additional step to ensure that the right medications were being dispensed. Without the bar coding, the pharmacists relied on visual inspections alone to make sure they were dispensing the right medication.

After implementing the bar coding technology, the rate of dispensing errors fell by 85 percent, and the rate of dispensing errors with the potential to harm patients fell by 63 percent.

The bar coding technology was most effective when it required the pharmacy staff to scan all doses of medications.

"Overall, the use of bar code scanning technology appears to have a significant impact on the rate of dispensing errors that were serious enough to potentially harm patients," lead author Eric Poon, an associate physician in the hospital's department of general medicine, said in a prepared statement.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

The elderly are at risk of drug errors

The elderly are at risk of accidentally harming themselves by taking potentially lethal mixtures of medicines, an expert says.

Pharmacist Kim Munro, of Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University, found just 16% of patients were receiving help with taking their drugs. He surveyed 695 people aged 78 to 86 living in sheltered housing. The poll revealed half were taking more than five different medicines a day, with one in five taking at least 12. Some 14% of the sample were using highly toxic medicines such as warfarin. Meanwhile, anti-inflammatory and blood pressure drugs taken by more than half the people had a high risk of side effects.

The survey, presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, also suggested the risk of making mistakes was increased by frequent changes in elderly people's medication routines.

Source - full article

BBC News

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Patients want better access to healthcare info

There is a need for a shift to a more patient-centred approach to healthcare and, especially, more efficient communication on disease and treatment options for patients, concludes a recent study on patient-organisation members' perception on the state of healthcare. A patient-centred approach aims to integrate the needs and expectations of patients into national healthcare systems, in particular by improving patients' access to treatment and information, ensuring their participation in healthcare decision-making and involvement in policy-making.

The Perceptions of healthcare survey, done for IAPO, the global alliance representing patients of all nationalities across all disease areas, includes input from ten EU member states. The study includes an analysis of the quality of healthcare and identifies the major challenges for improvements of government health-care policies. Patient organisations agree on three needs:

  • timely access to the best treatment and information;
  • right to participate in decision at the individual patient level, and;
  • patient involvement in policy-making.

One of the Pharmaceutical Forum's main issues is information for patients. A multi-stakeholder group is currently working on developing a future EU health information strategy. Specific working groups have discussed, since early 2006, non-statutory information, statutory information and accessibility.

The Commission 2004 communication on patient mobility highlights the need to ensure access to the right information regarding the quality and availability of health services in different member states.