New trial to improve medicine safety for those leaving hospital

A new trial service to help patients better manage their medication after they leave hospital will be launched at Box Hill this morning.

Poor medication management during or immediately after a hospital stay is a risk factor in 28% of potentially avoidable hospital re-admissions within 30 days.

DC MedsRec is a community pharmacy-based service for patients discharged from Box Hill Hospital with four or more medicines, designed to help reduce the risk of harm from dangerous drug interactions.

Eligible patients will meet with a trained community pharmacist, who will look at their hospital discharge summary via My Health Record, along with a range of other medication information.

The pharmacist will then check the patient’s understanding of the drugs they are taking, resolve any potential medicine safety problems and ensure any medication-related recommendations from hospital are followed up.

The pharmacist also will also offer to dispose of any discontinued medications and prescriptions for the patient, with their consent.

The service is an Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) pilot project, managed by Eastern Health in partnership with Monash University. The success of the service will be evaluated after 12 months.

Project lead Greg Duncan, from Monash University said the results could potentially shape future projects to help patients throughout Australia better manage their medicines.

“We know medication errors often occur when patients leave hospital and can mean patients end up being readmitted — so we will assess the impact of this new service on 30-day unplanned readmission rates to hospital," Mr Duncan said.

“Community pharmacies from the Eastern Health area will take part in the pilot, with up to 5,000 patients potentially involved,” said Eastern Health Chief Executive Adjunct Professor David Plunkett.

Australian Digital Health Agency’s CEO Tim Kelsey said the service was part of a $8.5 million program trialling innovative new approaches in post-hospital support, palliative care and the management of chronic health conditions, using digital technology to support better health outcomes.

“Pharmacists involved in the Box Hill project will be able to access their patients’ hospital discharge summaries quickly and easily using My Health Record,” he said.

“The ultimate aim is to ensure patients with complicated medication regimes don’t end up back in hospital after taking a bad combination of medicines.”