Monash Pharmacy Students collaborate with practitioners to improve patient safety

Australian dialysis patients are now at lower risk of medication errors thanks to the efforts of a group of Monash pharmacy students.

The students were completing an assignment set by practitioner-educator Steven Walker from Austin Health when they noticed that the Australian Medicines Handbook (“AMH”) entry for the common ACE inhibitor perindopril contained advice that conflicted with a general principle they had learned earlier in the unit.

The AMH entry advised that patients who had been prescribed perindopril should take the medication on the same day as they undergo dialysis. This advice conflicts with the general principle that medications that lower blood pressure should not be administered prior to dialysis.

The students raised the matter with Mr Walker, who referred their concerns to the Nephrology group of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. The Nephrology group and the University then jointly brought the error to the AMH’s attention.

The latest edition of the AMH, published in July 2019, has been updated to remove this recommendation.

“This is a great example of the pharmacy community coming together to improve patient safety,” said Mr Walker. “It reflects really well on the AMH, who revised the information promptly once it was bought to their attention.”

“I’m also extremely proud of our students. Once they had identified this confusing statement, they assumed they had a duty to remediate it, which reflects a strong sense of professional identity. Less than two years into their degree, they already understand that the role of the pharmacist is not simply to endorse the script in front of them, but to promote patient safety most holistically,” he said.

The Monash Director of Pharmacy Education, Professor Tina Brock, confirmed that this sense of professional duty is something the course deliberately inculcates.

“From day one, we emphasise to our students that they are pharmacists in training,” she said. “Our course focuses heavily on skills development including having dedicated skills coaches who help students hone their abilities in areas like oral and written communication. We also partner closely with our practitioner community to provide almost 100 days of placement across the degree. This ensures students see first-hand how pharmacists influence the care model – as individuals and in teams.”

The Faculty’s commitment to a team-based approach to patient safety finds further expression in the Monash Collaborative Care Curriculum. This framework encompasses multiple workshops that pharmacy students undertake with students from other healthcare courses. On World Patient Safety Day, 17 September, Monash Health will host one of these events – an interprofessional workshop where medicine, nursing, and pharmacy students will collaborate on a series of patient safety-related activities. Professor Brock said, “the pharmacy students set to participate are from the cohort that suggested revising the perindopril instructions in the AMH. We can’t wait for them to share this important safety action in their teams.”

Contact: Divya

Phone: 0466910111

Email: divya.krishnan@monash.edu