Meds management initiative reduces medication errors


Mark Scott and Cikie Lee.

When Prahran resident Mark Scott’s mother was hospitalised last year, support from a community pharmacist on her return home helped significantly

Mark’s mother, 85, was receiving daily visits from Bolton Clarke’s (formerly RDNS) home nursing team, which recommended her for support from a pharmacist through the Timely Enhanced Access to Medication Management (TEAMM) Pharmacist initiative funded by Eastern Melbourne PHN.

She was taking a number of medications for diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, cholesterol, peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, heart and bowel issues among others. 

“After she had a stint in hospital early in the year we were advised to get a home nursing service,” he says.

“The Bolton Clarke nurses were great, they initially helped manage the medication by bringing a locked box where it could be kept safely for the nurses to access, and we had that in place for several months.

“Then a clinical pharmacist from Bolton Clarke called and introduced herself and asked if we wanted her to review Mum’s medications.”

More than 100 clients have received the TEAMM Pharmacist initiative over the past six months.

The TEAMM initiative works with a patient’s GP, home nurses and pharmacist and aims to reduce the incidence of medication-related problems that patients may experience.

It targets people aged 50-plus who have been referred to Bolton Clarke for medication management support and are identified at risk of experiencing medication problems and errors.

This includes problems related to treatment complexity, changes in medications, uncertainty as to what is currently being taken, potential interactions and side-effects.

The initiative started on 3 July 2017 and will run until 30 June 2018; it is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Primary Health Network (PHN) program through Eastern Melbourne PHN.

Mark Scott
Mark Scott

Bolton Clarke research fellow, Cikie Lee, says medication errors occur in up to 40% of older people referred for home nursing support.

“Around 13% experience an adverse medication event requiring hospitalisation or medical consultation,” she says.

She says these are often due to uncertainty about what is currently being taken, confusion about changes to current medications, or potential interactions and side-effects when a high number of drugs are prescribed.

Mr Scott’s mother was looked after by pharmacist Robyn Saunders.

“We had a long talk about Mum’s medication management and she said she could see some obvious changes that we could make,” Mr Scott said.

“Mum had quite a long list of more than 10 medications that had to be taken at four different times during the day, so it could be confusing.

“I wasn’t sure she was taking them properly. After the review we were able to reduce that to three times a day, which was easier for Mum to manage.

“She also had three hospital visits throughout the year and every time we went to hospital the medications changed.

“Robyn, the Bolton Clarke Clinical pharmacist, gave me so much of her time – it made me feel there was extra support there,” he says.

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