Primary care's key role in medication safety


26 May 2012
As the most common point of contact with patients, primary care plays a critical role in ensuring medication safety.

Waitemata DHB’s award-winning SafeRx initiative promotes the safe and effective use of medicines and has quickly proven a valuable tool among GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and pharmacists.

Its success creates an opportunity for the entire Northern Region to learn from under the First, Do No Harm patient safety model.

SafeRx sees bi-monthly bulletins about high-risk medicines and those of topical interest sent to key groups in primary care.

By staying up-to-date about new developments, practitioners are best-placed to ensure patients are getting the right medicine at the right time, in the right dose for the right patient.

Handy resources for patients are also distributed through primary care under the initiative.

Marie Bennett from the All Seasons Amcal Pharmacy Te Atatu South is a strong supporter of SafeRx and is keen for it to be expanded across the region.

“Safe Rx aims to remind health professionals of the important key points with riskier medicines so that we are not fearful of using them but use them appropriately and safely,” she said.
“The patient cards are important to give in writing those ‘take-home’ messages.

“Patients are given a lot of information from their doctor, nurse and pharmacist, so the card serves as a reminder of the key points around using their medicine safely and effectively.

“It’s also very important to keep the patient informed around the risks and benefits of using medicines.”

A case study to illustrate the point was an elderly patient prescribed tramadol for her severe back and hip pain.

The patient was told she could take 50-100mg up to four times-a-day if needed for her pain.

“She went home and took eight x 50mg  capsules over the next 24 hours and ended up having hallucinations and calling the police because she thought there were men with knitted jumpers in her bedroom.  

“With SafeRx, the prescriber could and would have given her more information and she would have had a patient card with bold clear information to help her using the medicine safely.”
For more information, visit the SafeRx website -