A series of simple questions are offering a step change in the safe dispensing of non-steroidal anti Inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs).
Building on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, a communications bundle and toolkit is now being used across Scotland’s network of community pharmacies with the aim of getting every member of the team involved.
The work is being led by Mark Easton, National Clinical Lead Pharmacist for Primary Care at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Mark Easton has been telling Pharmacy in Practice about progress so far.
“There’s so much we can do to both improve safety for patients and improve the quality of care that pharmacists deliver, which are essentially two sides of the same coin. Choosing which high-risk medicines to focus on was a mix of listening to what clinicians were telling us and using the data that we had. For example, we know that there are around 61,000 unscheduled hospital admissions every year in Scotland relating to medicines and NSAIDs come within the top five of the medicines associated with these admissions. We also knew that NSAIDs weren’t just being prescribed; a lot of people taking NSAIDs were buying them over the counter in pharmacies, corner shops and supermarkets. So, we needed to reach a broad group of people and we needed to engage whole teams.
“Working across 27 pilot sites within four health boards in Scotland, we developed, tested and validated a care bundle. As it turned out, the first thing we had to recognise was that a lot of people don’t know what a care bundle is so before we were able to roll it out nationally, we spent some time getting the explanation right of what it is and how it works.
“The first element has been a communications bundle and then, later this year, we plan to roll out a clinical decision-making support tool for pharmacists.
“At the heart of the communications bundle are three very simple questions – yes or no checks – asking patients if they know that they should be taking their NSAID with or after food; whether they understand that they need to tell their pharmacist or GP about any side effects; and making them aware of the ‘medicines sick day rules’ for the circumstances when they have a stomach upset, for instance, risk getting dehydrated and need to temporarily stop taking their NSAID to protect their kidneys. And the beauty of the three questions approach is that it works regardless of the role or experience of the team member delivering the bundle.
“So far, the evaluation we’ve done shows that, by and large, the bundle has been well received within community pharmacy and people have particularly like the whole pharmacy approach. Certainly, in the pilot work, we saw some real benefits beyond the actual bundle work. Engaging the whole team in an improvement project had a wider benefit because people, feeling engaged in patient safety, went on to make suggestions about additional improvement work that they could be involved in. And, on top of that, feedback from patients around the use of it has been really positive.”
Mark Easton will be leading a session on the National NSAID communication bundle at the Celtic Conference for Pharmacy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, being held in Edinburgh on Tuesday 26 March. Registration is free for healthcare professionals at www.pharman.co.uk/celtic-conference.