Intention of this standard
The Medication Safety Standard aims to ensure that clinicians safely prescribe, dispense and administer appropriate medicines, and monitor medicine use. It also aims to ensure that consumers are informed about medicines, and understand their own medicine needs and risks.
Background to this standard
Medicines are the most common treatment used in health care. Although appropriate use of medicines contributes to substantial improvements in health, medicines can also be associated with harm.1 Because they are so commonly used, medicines are associated with a higher incidence of errors and adverse events than other healthcare interventions. Some of these events are costly, in terms of morbidity, mortality and resources. Up to 50% are potentially avoidable.2
Scope of this standard
The Medication Safety Standard addresses areas of medication management that have a known risk of error, often as a result of unsafe processes and variation in clinician practices.
The Medication Safety Standard requires health service organisations to assess medication management and implement processes and practices that:
- Provide for sound governance for the safe and quality use of medicines
- Minimise the occurrence of medicine-related incidents and the potential for patient harm from medicines
- Ensure that competent clinicians safely prescribe, dispense and administer medicines, and monitor their effects
- Inform patients about their medicines and involve them in decision-making.
Key links with other standards
Synergies with other NSQHS Standards will also need to be identified. This will ensure that medication safety and quality systems, and policies and processes for medication management are integrated, to reduce duplication of effort.
Medication management pathway
Medication management involves prescribing, dispensing, administering and monitoring medicines. Medication management is complex and involves several different clinicians. Often referred to as the medication management pathway, it comprises multiple activities and three system processes to manage the safe and effective use of medicines for patients at each episode of care.3,4
Safe processes and practices are required for all activities in the medication management pathway. These activities include procuring, supplying, storing, compounding, manufacturing, prescribing, dispensing, administering and monitoring the effects of medicines.
The consumer is the central focus of the medication management pathway. Health service organisations should apply the principles of partnering with consumers, health literacy and shared decision making when developing, reviewing and implementing processes or practices within the medication management pathway.
The pathway provides a framework for:
- Identifying when there is potential for errors or risk of harm
- Responding with strategies to reduce the opportunity for error.
To ensure safe and effective use of medicines within the health service organisation, identify opportunities for patient harm and implement strategies to prevent medicine-related errors. Steps taken early in the medication management pathway can prevent adverse events occurring later in the pathway.