Naas General Hospital Nursing and Pharmacy Staff Launch Two Campaigns to Prevent Medication Harm 

Today, (Friday 16th of September 2022), the Pharmacy and Nursing Staff of Naas General Hospital (NGH) are promoting the theme of this World Patient Safety Day ‘Medication Without Harm’ by launching the SALAD ‘Sounds Alike, Looks Alike Drugs’ and ‘Know, Check, Ask’ campaigns. 

Every person at some point in their life will take medications to prevent or treat illness. However, medications sometimes cause serious harm if incorrectly stored, prescribed, dispensed, administered, or monitored insufficiently. Many medications have similar looking or sounding names.  The SALAD campaign identifies these drugs, applies a sticker to alert prescribers and dispensers that there are drugs of a similar name, and urges them to check again if they are administering the correct drug.

Quality, Risk & Patient Safety Manager Evelyn O’Shea said SALAD is one of the many ways in which Naas General Hospital is working to improve patient safety. We also encourage all patients to know the medication they are taking, check they are using it the right way, and ask a healthcare professional if they are unsure. New patients are provided with a leaflet detailing the ‘Know, Check, Ask’ steps and allowing them to fill in their own details on a table which they can keep with them throughout their hospital journey” 

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care across the world according to the WHO.  The objectives of the theme ‘Medication Without Harm’ is to: 

  1. RAISE awareness of medication-related harm and ADVOCATE urgent action to improve medication safety. 
  2. ENGAGE key stakeholders and partners in the efforts to prevent medication errors and reduce medication-related harm. 
  3. EMPOWER patients and families to be actively involved in the safe use of medication. 
  4. SCALE UP implementation of the WHO Global Patient Safety. 

Karen O’Malley, Chief Pharmacist with Responsibility for Medication Safety said “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to reduce medication-related harm here in Naas General Hospital.  Working with both the medical and prescribing nursing staff to help identify when a drug sounds very similar to another drug and prompting them to always check again, but also by encouraging patients to empower themselves to know what medication they are using, check they are using it correctly and ask a medical professional if they are unsure.  With all parties actively engaged in preventing mistakes we believe we can reduce medication-related harm and improve the safety of all of our patients.” 

Director of Nursing Anne Murphy said “The ‘Know, Check, Ask’ campaign allows patients and their families to keep an up to date list of the medications they are taking. This can help with discussions with healthcare providers and engages the patient more in their treatment.”

The ‘Know, Check, Ask’ campaign was developed by Naas General Hospitals Senior Pharmacist Vanesha Bhahuan and is now rolled out for use across the country. 

See www.safermeds.ie to learn more about reducing medication-related harm and follow @NationalQPS on Twitter with the hashtags #QIreland #WorldPatientSafetyDay  

About World Patient Safety Day: 

World Patient Safety Day is part of a World Health Organization (WHO) global campaign to raise awareness and ensure that patient safety is established as a global health priority. It was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of healthcare and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm. 

World Patient Safety Day 2022 theme is Medication without Harm and asks stakeholders to prioritise and take early action in keys areas associated with significant harm due to unsafe medication practices. 

The WHO state that unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm across the world. Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions and staff shortages affect the safety of the medication use process. This can result in severe patient harm, disability and even death. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated the risk of medication errors and associated medication-related harm.

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