Patient safety refers to preventing errors when it comes to their overall care provided by you, their doctor. It also means preventing adverse reactions when patients take medications.
Adverse events can happen for a variety of reasons. Your patient may not take their medications according to your instructions. You may fail to make a correct diagnosis or change their medication when needed. You may be negligent in some cases.
Other adverse events can happen when patients fail to tell you all the medications, traditional and alternative, they are taking. Without knowing it, you could be prescribing a medicine that could cause a fatal reaction.
Not only can you and your patients make mistakes, your staff can as well. It is reported that up to half of the medical errors are caused by administrative staff.
There are things you and your staff can do to improve patient safety. One of the best actions is to implement an in-office dispensing program in your practice. With this program, you will prescribe and distribute medication to the patient before they are discharged from your office visit.
There are many benefits to in-office dispensing. Below are the advantages it offers to improving the safety of your patients.
Prevents Pharmacy Errors
Pharmacy errors are increasing each year. Medication errors can include the following: giving the patient the wrong medication; misreading physician’s orders; giving the patient someone else’s medication; pharmacist authorizing the wrong dose on the medication; pharmacist or pharmacy technician contaminating the medication.
These errors happen, and they happen on a regular basis across the country.
The use of pharmaceutical technicians is also a concern. They are not trained as well to spot errors, prevent cross-contamination and keep up with the enormous demands of busy pharmacies today.
In-office dispensing can help prevent these errors you input the information on each prescription that will keep the patient safe.
Monitor Patient Follow-Through
Pharmacists do not have to ensure patients are compliant with their medicines. While it would be nice, and ethical, they are not required to do so. They are not even required to report their suspicions or concerns to you when they feel a patient may be abusing their medicine.
Pharmacists do not automatically check to see if a patient is refilling their medicine on time. They are not aware of when patients have stopped taking their medications altogether unless they are prompted to look up their information in the database.
With hundreds of patients being served each day, it is unlikely they take the time to measure compliance, even if it is important to them.
Dispensing allows you direct access to your patients’ files that show whether your patients are calling in for refills on time, too soon, or not enough. Knowing this information can give you insight into why your patient’s health outcomes are improving or getting worse.
Provide Better Education
Gaining knowledge about the medicine you have prescribed is key for patients reaching health goals.
They blindly trust that you know what is best for them. However, this is not good enough. You must make sure your patients completely understand their medications. They need to understand why you are prescribing the medicine, what health improvements they should expect, what side effects they may encounter, and what to do if they have negative reactions.
With doctor dispensing, patients can receive demonstrations and assistance in learning how to use medications directly from you, their care provider. This is something they would rarely receive from a pharmacist.
Provide the Cleanest Medications
If the medicine you prescribe for a patient is dirty, it can negatively affect your patient. You want the medicines you prescribe to be created in a healthy environment.
Clean rooms help provide this healthy environment during the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. Clean rooms focus on the air in the facility where drugs are manufactured. If the air is clean, everything else in the facility will be cleaner.
A clean room is defined as the space used to contain an area that needs to be free of particles that could potentially contaminate a product. They are also used to control temperature and pressure.
Cross-contamination can happen at pharmacies.
Germs and bacteria can travel a distance through sneezing and coughing. These germs can land on the preparation table where staff are working, where medicines are placed. Prepackaged medications used with in-office dispensing prevent germs from getting onto medicines.
Medicines Arrive from Safe Facilities
There are over 100 steps involved in the production of prepackaged medicines. DEA and FDA guidelines are strictly followed when creating medicines to be used by physicians who are dispensing at point of care.
This means the facility is clean, sterile and well protected. Quality management and quality assurance are top priority.
Manufacturing facilities must do a lot of testing. And then they must test their testing methods. If the way they test the quality of the drugs they produce is not giving them the answers needed, they must improve it.
The building where any drug product will be held, processed or packaged endures strict scrutiny by the FDA. The size and location of the building are just as important as maintenance and operations. They are broken down for inspection purposes as internal and external environments.
The steps taken to ensure the medicine is properly produced can seem extreme to some. However, it should also give comfort to physicians wanting to make sure the medicines they order are prepared safely and securely.
In conclusion, there are many things you can do to improve patient safety, especially when using in-office dispensing. Getting your patients more involved in their own care is one of the most important actions.
Instead of allowing them to trust you without proof, teach them how to ask questions and offer valuable information about their health. Teach them to be their own advocate.
This, combined with you implementing safety tools within your office, that accompany in-office dispensing programs, will help you establish a successful treatment plan with your patients.