SafeRx is the name of an initiative by the Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) Team at Waitemata District Health Board.
The QUM Team is comprised of two pharmacists and a primary care advisor (a practising GP) and reports to a multi-disciplinary Steering Group.
The project aims to increase awareness about how medicines can be used more safely and effectively, in particular high risk medicines – those which can be harmful if not used correctly.
New bulletins are sent out every two months to health professionals who have joined SafeRx; they can also be accessed by general practice teams through some types of practice software.
These bulletins are based on best practice guidelines and evidence-based medicine; each one is peer-reviewed before being published.
They contain brief practice points, and are available in both an abbreviated and a full-length referenced version.
There are resources for a range of high risk and non-high risk medicines, all of which have an important part to play for treating patients.
A large part of SafeRx is promoting the safe use of high risk medicines. SafeRx Bulletins are unique, when compared with other medicines information resources in NZ, because they focus on high risk medicine issues, so the key messages aren’t lost.
Primary care teams were asked what they wanted in regard to medicines information. Most asked for short succinct messages on one side of A4, delivered regularly to their Inbox and stored on a website. SafeRx delivers just that.
Saferx is aimed at people working in primary care; doctors, nurses, pharmacists and midwives.
Currently, it’s focused on health professionals who work in Northland, Auckland or Counties Manukau DHBs. However, people from other DHBs are also welcome to sign up.
Over 400 health professionals in Waitemata DHB have already joined.
SafeRx Patient Guides have also been developed for them to use and are given out primarily by community pharmacists.
These empower patients to use their medicines more safely and encourage them to become active participants in medication safety.
Because many factors contribute to safe and effective medicines use, it is hard to show SafeRx’s impact. For example, reducing hospital admissions because a certain medicine is prescribed less.
However, an evaluation by the University of Auckland showed that SafeRx was well received - most felt it was applicable to their daily practice, the bulletins were unique and provided ‘to-the-point’ safety messages, and SafeRx had the potential to improve the safe use of medicines in NZ.
In 2011, SafeRx was joint winner of Waitemata DHB’s Health Excellence Awards.
Following this, it won funding from the Health Safety and Quality Commission’s Quality and Safety Challenge 2012 to support it being roll-out as a regional initiative (see http://www.firstdonoharm.org.nz/).
The intention is to keep producing high quality educational materials about medicines that are relevant to daily practice. If SafeRx is expanded successfully across the Northern Region DHBs, it may be offered nationwide.