Working together to improve patient safety

Workshop attendees discussed current medication pathways for older patients

A review of medication management processes for older patients is underway at Westmead Hospital. Consumer and GP experiences are shaping discussions and will inform recommendations.

A recent workshop at the hospital was attended by Westmead Redevelopment consumers, GPs, community and hospital pharmacists, staff from Western Sydney Local Health District, the My Health Record team, WSLHD Health Literacy Hub and the Westmead Redevelopment project team. This workshop was part of the Redevelopments HealthPathways process, which aims to review and streamline healthcare processes, improve patient care and share resources between healthcare providers.

During the workshop, Westmead Hospital’s head of geriatric medicine Dr Ray Cabela said: “there are many barriers to providing optimal care to older patients; this is an opportunity to review and close some of those gaps.”

Ray noted 60 per cent of medication errors occur at transitions of care – points where a patients moves between healthcare providers, before returning home.

Unfortunately, at every touch-point between patient and health providers, there are opportunities for inaccurate documentation, prescribing errors and gaps between different paper and electronic systems. This work group has the opportunity to make changes that will have a great impact for patients, their carers and families,” he said.

Westmead Redevelopment consumer Ajay Varshney shared his recent heart surgery experiences, including changes to his own medication. He described the confusion that can occur when a patient receives new medication and is not clear on what to do when they are at home.

“Many pills are the same shape or colour. Patients might not understand what they are taking, despite a specialist doctor, pharmacist or GP discussing it with them. English may not be their first language; a patient might smile and nod, so they don’t cause offence,” he said.

Workshop attendees also discussed the current lay-out, content and distribution of patient discharge summaries, which contain detailed information about the medications prescribed during a hospital visit. All agreed there were opportunities to add plain-English information about each medication listed on the summaries.

The group will meet again soon to work out priority areas to address. This is a partnership between the Westmead Redevelopment project and the Western Sydney Primary Health Network.

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