Report looks at technology’s role in reducing medication errors

Greater use of technology such as robot dispensers in primary care settings like community pharmacy can reduce medication errors, a report by a manufacturer of automated healthcare and medication adherence products argues.

‘SAFE: Banishing Medication Errors in Primary Care (Safeguarding Against Frontline Errors)’ was authored by pharmacist and journalist Fawz Farhad and launched by Omnicell UK & Ireland. 

It follows a Department of Health and Social Care study from earlier this year that found that primary care adverse drug reactions cause an estimated 627 deaths per year, costing the NHS £83.7m in unnecessary hospital admissions.

Omnicell says its report found that introducing technology “helps to dramatically reduce the risk of medication errors” as well as freeing up pharmacy time.

“While there has been a growth in the use of robotic dispensing systems in hospital pharmacies, the same cannot be said for community pharmacy,” says Omnicell. “Evidence exists to show that pharmacy robots can reduce errors while improving the speed and efficiency of the dispensing process,” the company says.

Pharmacies can also benefit from technology that automates the process of filling medication adherence packaging, Omnicell says.

Omnicell managing director Paul O’Hanlon said: “The Department of Health study published earlier this year has brought medication errors to the forefront of people’s attention. Worryingly, the report discovered that almost three quarters of the errors classed as ‘clinically significant’ occur in primary care with more than half of these happening in the dispensing and monitoring process.

“Around half the population in England take at least one medicine and more than half of those aged 85 years or over take at least five. That’s why it is imperative that safety measures are put in place to ensure that patients are taking the right dose of the right medicine at the right time.

“Within pharmacy, staff are working really hard to protect patient safety, but they are more stretched now than ever before.”

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