Patients urged to take their medication to hospital
Patients in Norfolk were today urged to bring in their medication on admission to hospital in a bid to increase patient safety and reduce waste.
Pharmacists at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are launching a campaign to encourage patients to bring their labelled medicines with them when they come into hospital.
The move is part of a One-Stop Dispensing initiative which is currently being rolled out across the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust.
Nationally more than £100 million of NHS medicine is wasted every year and this new initiative is designed to deliver better patient care and reduce medication wasteage.
- At their pre-assessment appointment, patients are given a green plastic bag to hold all their medicines when they come into hospital. The bag should contain all prescribed drugs in their original packs, including tablets and pills, inhalers, drops, creams and injections, as well as any herbal and homeopathic remedies and over-the-counter medicines that they take regularly.
- If the patient arrives by emergency ambulance, the paramedic will, wherever possible, assemble the patient's drugs in a green bag and bring this into hospital with the patient.
- On admission, patients are requested to hand their medicines to a nurse so the drugs can be kept safe until they are needed.
- Lockable cabinets have been installed beside the beds on all wards to contain the patient’s individual supply of drugs. Keys are held by the nurses who open the lockers during regular drug rounds.
- Pharmacy staff are on hand each day to talk to patients about their medication. The ward pharmacist checks the drugs chart to see that medicines are being prescribed correctly, while pharmacy technicians check the patient's own supplies and order more if required.
- Pharmacy staff prepare a minimum 14-day supply of medicines for when the patient goes home. Further supplies can be obtained from the GP in the usual way.
Carol Farrow, Clinical Director of Pharmacy, said: We are redesigning the way medicines are supplied and managed within our hospitals to provide more patient-focused care and give patients a more personal pharmacy service.
Before this scheme was introduced, patients either went home from hospital with medicines they already had at home, or the medicines they did bring into hospital were destroyed, which resulted in significant waste.
Patients really appreciate this system as it means they can continue with their own familiar medicines while they are in hospital and there is less wastage. It also means that staff have more time to talk to patients about their medicines.
For instance, if the patients’ own medicines are no longer appropriate, we get a chance to talk to them about why they are being discontinued or replaced. We can also discuss dosage changes and explain the benefits and possible side-effects of any new drugs they are being prescribed. This increases the patient's understanding of their own medicines.
Nurses have noticed that the number of missed doses are reduced and it also saves time at discharge as patients no longer need to wait for all their medicines to be dispensed before they can go home. Instead the patient’s own supply can be used, together with any new drugs dispensed by the pharmacy.
Another benefit of One-Stop Dispensing is that it allows for more teamworking and communication between nurses and pharmacy staff. If patients bring in their own medicines we can provide a more personal Pharmacy service. It also avoids the problem of drugs being hoarded at home when they are no longer required.
Posters are being sent to all GP surgeries and pharmacies to remind the public to bring their medicines with them.