A mental health charity caring for patients with complex needs has seen a 50% drop in prescription-related errors since rolling out a new electronic prescribing and medicines administration system (ePMA) system.
St Andrew’s Healthcare – whose 4,500 staff care for around 800 patients at four main hospital sites – worked closely with EMIS Health to introduce the system, which replaces paper drug charts. It enables clinicians to more safely prescribe drugs with the optimal dosage and duration, as well as providing integrated support for flagging potentially incorrect prescriptions. The charity says it has also helped nurses to nearly halve the time they spend on administering drugs to patients.
St Andrew’s provides holistic care to some of the most vulnerable and clinically-complex patients in the mental health system who could not, in many cases, be treated elsewhere.
Kavi Gohil, Senior Pharmacist and ePMA lead at St Andrew’s Healthcare, said: “Prescribing electronically with our new system from EMIS Health has made a real difference in many different areas. There has been a more than 50% reduction in medication errors.
“Our pharmacists now have greater governance and oversight of medicine usage. This means that we can clinically screen medicines much closer to the point of prescription, reducing risks related to dosage levels, frequency and potentially serious drug interactions. At discharge, the right medication is assigned to the right patients at the right time.”
He added that managing prescriptions electronically has resulted in fewer errors with admissions and transcribing medications.
“It’s made things much more efficient. Both doctors and nurses can make an order. Pharmacists can then see and raise the request, dispense the medication and check it electronically. Prescriptions can be sent back in one day. It has streamlined everything and made things much more structured.
“Doctors don’t have to write medication charts any more, which is saving a ton of paper and doctors’ time too. It has been a godsend.”
The system from EMIS Health is also freeing up nurses to spend more time on other aspects of patient care. Mr Gohil said: “Nurses have a 90-minute timeslot to complete drug administrations, but now they are finished in 45 minutes to an hour.”
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, Chief Medical Officer at EMIS Group, said: “We are proud that our system is helping St Andrew’s to drive up standards of care for a vulnerable group of patients with such complex needs. At EMIS Health one of the key aims with our medicines management software is to improve clinical safety. A research report commissioned by the government in 2018 found that 230 million medication errors are made each year at an annual cost of £1.6bn: working with our customers, sophisticated eprescribing software has a vital part to play in reducing errors and improving care.”