News, Secondary Care

PRSB publishes new guidance to enable sharing of medicines and prescription information

The Professional Record Standards Body has this week published new guidance to enable the digital sharing of medications information between care settings.

The guidance has been produced in collaboration with NHS Endgland and NHS Digital to produce clear information to follow for recording and sharing standardised computer-readable information between hospital, GP and community-based services.

In the announcement PRSB stated that research estimates that there are 237 million medication errors in the UK each year and as many as five deaths each day from errors in prescribing, dispensing or monitoring medications use. With many of them occurring when information is transferred on paper because critical prescribing information can’t be shared from one computer system to another.

The guidance will also help hospitals integrate electronic prescribing systems and pharmacy stock control which also will reduce waste and inefficiency.

At the moment, hospitals, GPs and other community-based services use different methods of prescribing so that when a patient transfers from one setting to another, clinicians need to manually translate prescribing information to ensure the correct medicines, dosages and timings are identified and administered.

Dose information has now been standardised for the most common uses. There is also guidance available for handling more complex cases. It sets out rules for translating medicines information between the different prescribing methods used in different care settings.

PRSB was asked to undertake a consultation with clinicians, professionals and people who will be using the standardised guidance to test whether it is safe, workable and would gain widespread support and acceptance. PRSB’s report, digital medication information guidance, is available here.

Maureen Baker, chair of the PRSB “Improving medicines information sharing by computerising processes and replacing paper-based ones that were prone to errors is a significant achievement. Thanks to the combined efforts of NHS England, NHS Digital and the PRSB, prescribing for patients should be safer, more efficient and fewer medicines will be wasted.”

Dr Michael Brooks, a practicing NHS Emergency Department doctor and Chief Medical Officer of PatientSource “Throughout my career I have seen catastrophic errors – errors where patients have died – all because doctors and nurses are relying on handwritten paper notes and paper handover sheets to manage patient care. In this day and age this is completely preventable and unnecessary. The technology exists to digitise the NHS but it isn’t as simple as this, the technology has to be designed to make doctors’ nurses’ lives easier in order to be successfully adopted in their time-pressured lives. These solutions cost money and at a time when the NHS is cash-strapped investment in IT systems is not always a priority meaning that there is a mixed economy with some organisations digitised and some that are not.”

“The guidance from PRSB is a great step towards ensuring interoperability between systems and is vital if we are going to reap the benefits of a digital NHS, however, there still needs to be capital investment to ensure that all health and social care organisations, from GPs, dental practices, and pharmacies through to mental health services and acute hospitals, invest in electronic patient record and e-prescribing solutions.”

“Open interoperability should be a fundamental requirement of all clinical applications the NHS procures.”