World Patient Safety Day 2022 – Pharmacists key to reducing medicine harm

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is tomorrow celebrating the World Health Organisation’s World Patient Safety Day, championing medicine safety on a global scale. The theme for this year’s World Patient Safety Day is Medication Without Harm.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that World Patient Safety Day is a reminder for patients and pharmacists.

“Unsafe medicine practices and errors with medicine are the leading cause of avoidable harm across the world,” Dr Sim said.

PSA’s first medicine safety report, Medicine Safety: Take Care estimated that medicine-related problems cause 250,000 hospital admissions each year, with an annual cost of approximately $1.4 billion, and at least half of these hospital admissions being preventable.

“Pharmacists are the custodians of medicine safety and play a significant role in making sure that our patients are safe when taking medicines. A large part of our role as pharmacists is to talk with our patients to promote the highest standards of medicine safety to ultimately reduce the risks that lead to medicine errors and medicine-related harm.

“This is why pharmacists need to be embedded everywhere that medicines are used.”

“Medicine safety is the responsibility not only of the health care provider, but also of the patient themselves.

“On this World Patient Safety Day, we urge all Australians to check their medicine cabinet, check expiry dates, and throw away any expired medication. It is vital that all patients know their medications and always take them as instructed to avoid medicine harm. If you are unsure about anything related to your medicines, go and speak to your local pharmacist.

“While World Patient Safety Day is a great reminder of our goal to reduce medicine-related harm, we must practise safe medicine practises every day,” Dr Sim concluded.

Medicine Safety Facts

PSA’s Medicine Safety: Take Care report found that:

  • 250,000 Australians are hospitalised each year because of medication error, misuse and misadventure.
  • Another 400,000 presentations to emergency departments are likely to be due to medication-related problems.
  • This costs Australia approximately $1.4 billion in hospital admissions alone.
  • 50% of this harm is preventable.
  • Over 90% of patients have at least one medication-related problem post-discharge from hospital.
  • One in five people are suffering an adverse medication reaction at the time they receive a Home Medicines Review.
  • 1.2 million Australians have experienced an adverse medication event in the last 6 months.

PSA’s Medicine Safety: Aged Care report found that:

  • Over 95% of people living in aged care facilities have at least one problem with their medicines detected at the time of a medicines review; most have three problems
  • One in five unplanned hospital admissions among people living in aged care facilities are a result of taking medicines generally considered potentially inappropriate for older people.
  • 40-50% of people living in aged care are on medicines that have the potential to cause sedation or confusion.
  • 50% of people with dementia are taking medicines with anticholinergic properties, which can worsen confusion and other symptoms of dementia.
  • One fifth of people living in aged care are on antipsychotics; more than half use the medicine for too long.

PSA’s Medicine Safety: Rural and Remote Care report found that:

  • 72,500 rural and remote Australians are admitted to hospital each year due to medicine-related problems.
  • The estimated cost to the Australian healthcare system of these admissions is $400 million each year. At least half of this harm is preventable.
  • 1.3 million rural and remote Australians do not take their medicines at all or as intended adding an estimated $2.03 billion to our annual healthcare costs.

PSA’s Medicine Safety: Disability Care report found that:

  • People with disability face challenges at all stages of medicine use – prescribing, dispensing, administration and adherence, and monitoring.
  • Almost 3 in 4 people with intellectual disability in a residential facility have been chemically restrained for more than five years.

/Public Release.