Speaking exclusively to C+D yesterday (April 30), Leyla Hannbeck said: “Dealing with ongoing medicine shortages on a daily basis puts additional pressure on pharmacy teams at a time when the pharmacy workload is already very significant.”
She suggested current shortages of certain hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products could be responsible for these preparations becoming one of the most common causes of ‘look-alike, sound-alike’ errors in the first three months of 2019, “as patients are being switched to alternative preparations in the interim”.
“HRT preparation errors included: Elleste Solo and Elleste Duet; Femoston and Femoston-conti; and Kliofem and Kliovance,” Ms Hannbeck revealed in her latest medication safety officer (MSO) report last week (April 25).
Yesterday, C+D reported that HRT patches FemSeven Conti and FemSeven Sequi are not expected to reenter the supply chain until early 2020.
Read what other common ‘look-alike, sound-alike’ errors were reported in the first three months of 2019.
There was a 29% increase in patient safety incidents reported in January-March, compared with the final three months of 2018. “Work and environment factors” remained the main contributor, accounting for 34% of all patient safety incidents reported to the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Ms Hannbeck said.
She listed both “time pressures” – resulting in pharmacists and pharmacy staff “rushing” to complete prescriptions – and pharmacists being “distracted” by questions from staff while checking prescriptions, as examples of “work and environment factors” contributing to incidents.
“Inappropriate skill mix”
As seen in the final three months of 2018, staff shortages had resulted in an “inappropriate skill mix” in a number of pharmacies, which contributed to the patient safety incidents reported in January-March, Ms Hannbeck said.
“Due to increased staff turnover within pharmacy teams – mainly dispensing assistants – pharmacists are having to self-check more prescriptions,” she told C+D yesterday.
Even when new staff join the pharmacy, they need to undergo training, “which takes time”, she added, meaning pharmacists continue to self-check while the new team members get up to speed.
Emergency MDS supply pressures
In one incident which Ms Hannbeck described as typical of a “common error”, a pharmacist was pressured by a patient’s carer to supply an emergency monitored dosage system (MDS) due to “time constraints”. The prescription had not been sent from the GP on time and the patient had run out of their medicines, so the pharmacist dispensed one week’s supply.
Once the prescription was sent to the pharmacy, the pharmacist noticed it contained changes to the patient’s medicine. By this time, the patient had taken the medicines from the morning and afternoon slot, but was not harmed.
Read a full copy of Ms Hannbeck’s report for January-March 2019.
Read C+D’s coverage of the other “common concerns” Ms Hannbeck flagged in her latest MSO report.