SafeRx goes regional

10 May 2012
What started as a handy guide about the safe use of high-risk medicines for members of Waitemata DHB’s primary care community is now set to become a reference tool for the entire Northern Region.

The expansion of the SafeRx initiative to the Northland, Auckland and Counties Manukau areas will significantly enhance primary care’s role in driving the patient safety agenda.

SafeRx has been a well-used resource within the Waitemata DHB population area, where it has proven to be a trusted medication safety tool among GPs, pharmacists, practice nurses and managers, midwives and patients alike.

Funding from the Health Quality and Safety Commission, following the successful application to the Quality and Safety Challenge 2012, has made it possible to extend SafeRx’s reach across the Northland, Auckland and Counties Manukau DHB population zones.

The application was supported by the First, Do No Harm Steering Group as an effective way of promoting patient safety through primary care networks.

The funding decision is a tick of approval for the small but effective Waitemata Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) team that has pioneered SafeRx.

It also opens up new opportunities for a regionally-consistent approach to minimising medication errors and complications.

The SafeRx team sends bi-monthly bulletins about high-risk medicines to primary care practitioners, providing current information to ensure patients receive the right medicine in the right dose at the right time.

Information guides are also made available for patients outlining potential side effects, emphasising the need to stick to prescribed dosages and explaining potential issues to be aware of.

Since its launch in 2008, SafeRx has evolved and grown by targeting the needs of its key stakeholders with great success.

“We originally asked GPs through Survey Monkey about the format in which they would like to receive information about high-risk medications,” said QUM Pharmacist John Kristiansen.

“Seventy GPs provided feedback, which shaped the structure of the programme.

“We delivered what they wanted and there was a high opt-in rate, which indicates it was meeting a need.”

From these beginnings, SafeRx has gone on to enjoy high levels of membership within the Waitemata DHB primary care population.

Those who have seen the benefit include 254 signed-up doctors, 55 practice nurses, 15 practice managers, 79 community pharmacies, 19 other pharmacists, two hospital pharmacies (with 54 pharmacists) and four midwives.

Project Manager and pharmacist Angela Lambie says that, based on these numbers, it’s possible SafeRx could soon be catering to the needs of a regional membership base of up to 1200 primary care professionals.

“This is an exciting time for us and we hope that people working in primary care across the region will also see the benefits in subscribing to our free service,” says Primary Care Advisor, Dr Frances McClure.

“Under SafeRx, the whole primary care team is getting the same messages, which is very important. We want to ensure we continue to provide information that is current and user-friendly.

“The School of Pharmacy did an evaluation for us in 2010 sampling about 100 GPs on our database. Their feedback was very positive.

“The message was that people liked the format and the way the programme has been structured to raise awareness of high-risk medications.

“We now have the opportunity to work with primary care across the region to further develop and refine SafeRx.”
To join SafeRx, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Do you have a view on this story? Do you have an experience you'd like to share with the region?
Sign-up as a member of the First, Do No Harm site and have your say on our forum page.