Medication safety

An estimated three-quarters of New Zealanders had a prescription for one or more medicines in the year ended 30 June 2012, and 35 percent were prescribed five or more medicines (although not necessarily at the same time).

The medicines management process is complex and prone to error at multiple points, which can result in adverse drug events (ADEs).
Around 60 percent of ADEs are considered to be preventable.

The medicines most frequently involved in serious ADEs are high-risk medicines.

These include

  • warfarin
  • heparin 
  • opioids 
  • insulin 
  • concentrated potassium injection
  • oral methotrexate.

Focus on safer use of opiods

Our current (late 2014/2015) focus relates to safer use of opioids and is part of the Health Quality and Safety Commission Open for Better Care campaign.
Good representation across medical, nursing and pharmacy is supporting the development of a strategy.
Currently two themes are emerging, one relating to prescribing and transition of patient care into the community, and the other at a ward level, looking at patient management where opioids are prescribed.

The improvement methodology starts with a small area to identify where issues are occurring. Working on wards M2 and M12 at Waikato Hospital, an audit is in progress to identify where patients are experiencing post op nausea and vomiting and how this has been managed, along with identification of any other themes that may arise. The audit will determine where to focus improvement ideas and initiatives.