Tallaght Hospital Launches New Patient Safety Initiative: ‘Zero Harm – Know Your Medicines’

(April 15th 2015) Tallaght Hospital launched the second of its patient safety initiatives in the Zero Harm series with the focus on reducing preventable harm related to medicines through innovation and public information. 

Medication has been found to cause serious adverse reactions in 4% of patients and can lead to profound and devastating effects on patients and their carers, in addition to prolonged and more resource intensive hospital care. Tallaght Hospital is tackling this by focusing on a series of initiatives to help improve medication safety.   

The Tallaght Hospital Adult Medicines Guide, first published in hardback in 2000, available in app format since October 2013, has been upgraded. Launched today the app enhances the existing app already being used by 500 healthcare staff in the hospital as an in-house, evidence-based source of medicines information and prescribing protocols. Most drug related harm occurs within a limited group of medications and drug classes i.e. anticoagulants, opioids, antimicrobials, insulin and diuretics. These medications and classes, along with general information on understanding and avoiding medication error are the focus of an e-learning program ‘Drug Safety - High Risk Medications’. As part of the Zero Harm initiative, healthcare professionals who prescribe, administer, dispense or monitor medication therapy in the hospital are being encouraged to complete the e-Learning program. 

The Zero Harm initiative is also working with patients, families and parents through the introduction of a ‘My Medicines’ leaflet in which they can document a list of their current medicines, to help hospital staff treat them safely in the hospital.  Zero Harm messages which act as a prompt to patients and their carers to bring their medicines list to appointments and when being admitted are also being incorporated into Out Patient / Elective admissions communications.  By including the prompt into hospital communications they will be reminded of the importance of knowing their medicines and working with hospital staff to improve safety. 

Tallaght Hospital’s CEO David Slevin stated “The Zero Harm initiative is a series of patient safety initiatives built on the expert clinical resources we have in Tallaght Hospital. Our Pharmacy Department is at the forefront of innovation in its field and this initiative puts their knowledge at the fingertips of our healthcare staff 24/7. Patient engagement is also a key element of this initiative and so we are also building in safety messages regarding medicines into our communications with patients, their parents and carers.” 

Tallaght Hospital’s Head of Pharmacy, Tim Delaney stated “Almost all patients use medication during their hospital stay and so it is vital that we equip prescribers with access to up-to-date expert information on medications in real time, when they are making decisions. Also, 70% of preventable death or serious adverse reactions are due to nine drugs or classesso constant education on these high risk medications is important. ‘Zero Harm – Know Your Medicines’ follows best international practice to utilise technology and patient engagement to reduce instances of medicine-related harm.” 

The clinical pharmacy service at Tallaght Hospital has a track record of innovation in relation to medication and is currently rolling out a new model of care called PACT (Collaborative Pharmaceutical Care at Tallaght). The PACT model has reduced potentially serious adverse medication events at discharge from 6% to zero – demonstrating the capacity for innovation to influence health outcomes. 

The project team for this initiative which was led by Sarah McMickan Deputy CEO of Tallaght Hospital included staff members from the pharmacy team, nursing and communications.

The first Zero Harm initiative was ‘Zero Harm: Clean Hands Save Lives’ which saw a concentrated public and internal information campaign to highlight the importance of hand hygiene amongst staff, patients and visitors. This was successful in terms of engaging these groups on the importance of hand hygiene in the clinical setting.

If you would like to download a copy of the Patient Safety information leaflet please click on this link, there is also an additional page which can be downloaded if further space is required.