‘Don’t let this happen to anyone else.’

Steve Morris receives the Fred J. Boyd Award from Peter Fowler.

Steve Morris, the recipient of the SHPA’s Fred J. Boyd award, has issued a challenge to his fellow pharmacists 

Adj A/Prof Morris, the CEO of NPS MedicineWise and former chief pharmacist of SA Health, was given the award at the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia’s 45th annual conference, Medicines Management 2019, on the Gold Coast.

He urged all pharmacists to take up the opportunity and obligation to maximise the safe, effective and optimal use of medicines to improve health outcomes.

“I just want you to think about the first time you were involved in a medicines safety incident in which a patient was harmed or nearly harmed. I’m sure it’s probably most of you,” he told delegates.

“I know when it happened to me, I was absolutely devastated.”

Mr Morris said in his own case, he was an early career pharmacist who knew his patient very well, and an incident involving potassium occurred.

“I remember how mortified I was, and whether I could have done something else. But equally, I remember what the patient said to me: ‘please, don’t let this happen again. Please don’t let it happen to anybody else’.”

He asked delegates, when thinking about the scale of the problem of medicines safety and medicine-related harm in Australia, to remember that most patients affected by negative medicines incidents simply don’t want a similar situation to happen to somebody else. 

Particularly in the context of the opioid crisis and the interim report into residential aged care – which Mr Morris described as “one of the most disturbing” documents he had ever read – and the highlighted inappropriate use of antipsychotics – he issued a challenge to pharmacists.

“We’ve been talking about these medicines safety, quality use of medicines issues for many, many years. We’ve got to ask the ‘why’ question, the ‘why’ question and the ‘what’ question. What can we do differently as a system, and what can we do as individuals? 

“We have to challenge ourselves. We have been described as custodians and stewards of quality use of medicines. What does that mean… and how can we challenge the system to be different and to make sure that it doesn’t happen again to somebody else?”

He told pharmacists to “never be satisfied with the status quo, seek your own route to professional happiness and always leave the jersey in a better place when you move on”.

President Peter Fowler celebrated the impact of Mr Morris’ strategic vision, inspirational leadership and his ability to effect service improvement for the betterment of patient care.

“Steve was integral in establishing SA Pharmacy, which, under his leadership, has seen South Australians benefit from reforms that have addressed inequity in South Australia’s pharmacy services across country health, mental health, and across metropolitan hospitals,” he said.

“He demonstrates absolute commitment to developing pharmacy services that ensure the best possible care for patients in South Australia and, through his national roles, around the country.

Steve’s commitment to education has seen the implementation of a preceptor support program in partnership with the University of South Australia. But further – as all his colleagues will know – his door is always open.

“He is always there to support and offer mentorship on both professional and personal levels.”

NPS MedicineWise chair and GP Dr Andrew Knight said the award is well deserved.

“I congratulate Steve on this accolade from the SHPA, which reflects his commitment to improving patient safety over many years of his pharmacy career,” he said.

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