Patient safety is fundamental to delivering quality essential health services as it is acknowledged by the World Health Assembly and by international organisations worldwide. To ensure successful implementation of patient safety strategies, clear policies, leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled healthcare professionals and effective involvement of patients in their care are needed . Appropriate use of medicines is a significant factor of patient safety and contributes to substantial improvements in health. However, medication applications and use can also be associated with harm. Since medication is the most commonly used treatment in healthcare settings, medicines are associated with a higher incidence of errors and adverse events than other interventions. Some of these events are severe and create a huge burden to the health systems in terms of patient harm, disability, morbidity, mortality and waste of resources.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated the risk of medication errors and associated medication-related harm . According to WHO, medication harm accounts for 50% of the overall preventable harm in healthcare, while more than 40 billion euros of global total health expenditure worldwide can be avoided if medication errors are prevented. Although the prevalence of medical and medication-related errors is highlighted in particular in children’s and elderlies’ healthcare settings, there has not been significant documented progress in addressing system contributors to medication errors globally . However, there may be opportunities to focus on the design and performance of many of these processes that are part of the medication system.
International accreditation programs for healthcare services based on ISQua- IEEA specifications and on WHO guidelines prioritize among the main patient safety standards those that relate to the medication management and administration. Temos International Healthcare Accreditation Programs include a number of standards which aim to accomplish safe handling, storage, transfer, administration and monitoring of medication applications as each of these elements of the medication management system is prone to failure resulting in harm to patients.
In the frame of the patient safety standards of Temos programs, it is highlighted that communicating effectively about medication management is a critical component of delivering safe care. Identification and marking of special categories of high risk medicines (High Alert Medication, Look Alike Sound Alike Drugs, high concentration electrolytes solutions, chemotherapy products, etc.) and the implementation of special protocols for storing, prescribing, handling and administrating these drugs creates preventive mechanisms and enhances overall patient safety in healthcare.
Main elements of the TIHA programs regarding medication safety, are the following:
– Assignment of responsibilities for medication management and quality assurance
– Secure storage and handling of medicines and medication management processes
– Documentation of crucial information during patient transfers
– Reporting of medication errors or near misses for immediate action and identification of error factors
– Healthcare staff training on medication safety procedures and best practices.
– Training of the patient and carers; engagement to their medication treatment safe practices.
As it is clearly stated by the Temos accredited hospitals and partner organisations, medication safety-related standards’ implementation aims to a safer and more effective healthcare system in order to meet actual patient needs establishing at the same time significant preventive measures to mitigate any risk deriving from the medicine use in their environment.