Safe medication practice and the Council of Europe
“Safe medication practice is an important public health issue in Europe. Current European medicines identification, packaging and labelling for pharmaceutical provide inadequate safeguards for patients. The Council of Europe Safe Medication Practice Report recommends changes in European regulations to require the use of a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number for a product or service according to the GS1 System of Standards), batch number, expiry date (and if applicable) a unique serial number on outer packs and unit of use packaging, in five years.” said Prof. David Cousins (NHS National Patient Safety Agency and member of the Council of Europe’s Expert Group on Safe Medication Practices) at the GS1 Healthcare Conference in Windsor (UK) from 29 to 31 October. “Continuing the current non-standardised and unregulated use of machine readable codes on medicines is likely to increase risks for patients in Europe. Inaccurate, confusing or unreadable codes or codes not included in healthcare databases may pose risks.” Concluded Prof. Cousins.
Coding for Success – Simple technology for safer patient care
“Of 8 million admissions to hospital in England each year, about 850,000 result in patient safety incidents which cost the NHS about £2 billion in extra hospital days. The Department of Health and its stakeholders believe in the potential of auto-identification to improve patient safety in one of the problem areas: medication errors.” Dr. Helen Lovell (UK Department of Health). Earlier this year, the Department of Health published ‘Coding for Success’ confirming the policy support for automatic identification and GS1 as coding standard for products. Connecting for Health (NHS) is partnering with GS1 UK, opening up GS1 membership to all NHS organisations and providing dedicated support to all users. This fits in the programme of support to the NHS to encourage wider uptake of automatic identification technologies. There are currently three focus areas: decontamination of sterile surgical instruments, medicines manufacturing, and patient identification. “All stakeholders need to continue working in partnership to achieve patient safety gains. GS1 Healthcare will continue to be a key forum for driving action by all stakeholders.”, concluded Dr. Lovell.
Decreasing the number of dispensing errors at the Gelre Hospitals
The introduction of a computerized prescriber order entry system, a bar code assisted dispensing system and a bedside assortment picking system, resulted in a 74% reduction of dispensing errors at the Gelre Hospitals (the Netherlands). An initial study revealed that more than 3% of administrations were erroneous. The systems made this process much more secure by having complete and legible prescriptions and verification of patient and product ID at the point of care. “The foundation of the system is the availability of bar coded drugs. Currently only about 60% of drugs are bar coded at the unit-dose level. We need more.” concluded Hans Ros (Hospital Pharmacist at Gelre Hospitals).