NSLHD News October 28

District medication safety and governance pharmacist for NSLHD Dawn Astles, Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Royal North Shore Hospital Professor Sarah Hilmer with consumer representative Elizabeth Yee

Shining a light on medication safety For some, medication is an everyday part of life, whether it be taking it or administering it – but this Medication Safety Month, we’re all being asked to think about the five moments of medication safety.

dose as they see fit,” she said.

“For example, they would measure their blood pressure at home and decide that they only need to half a tablet that day, or skip the dose on a particular day because their blood pressure looks ok. “This defeats the purpose of people taking prescribed medicines only to find out they may not be effectively taking them because they have modified their medicine regime.” Professor Sarah Hilmer, Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Royal North Shore Hospital, has conducted extensive research into the field of polypharmacy in older people. She says 50 per cent of older Australian are taking medicines that are unnecessary or where harm currently outweighs the benefit to them. “There’s been a huge increase in the number of medicines available,” she said. “People are starting to use them as preventative treatments in middle age and continuing to use them into older age as they accumulate more medications for more medical problems.” For more information on the STARS medication safety APP, please visit bit.ly/2MXMIT2

That is, the five critical moments when patients and clinicians should seek information from each, to better support safe medicine administration The five moments, starting, taking, adding, reviewing and stopping or ‘STARS’ remain as important as ever. District medication safety and governance pharmacist, Dawn Astles said it was important for staff to play a role in assisting patients with any questions they have about their medications. “Starting any type of medication can be a stressful time, especially if the person has never taken medication before or are already taking multiple other medications,” she said. “We want to encourage our staff to use the five moments of medication safety tool to assist patients, their families and carers and support them in answering any medication questions.” Consumer representative Elizabeth Yee said it was important for patients to follow the advice of their medical professional and not take matters into their own hands.

“Some people I know reduce or change their daily



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