A permanent role for pharmacists within general practitioner (GP) clinics may help prevent the widespread problem of medication errors by patients and health professionals, according to new research.
A Monash University study, led by Edwin Tan from the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, is examining the role of pharmacists, located within Australian primary healthcare clinics and GP surgeries, in optimising the safety and provision of medication used by patients.
The study is also assessing how the co-location of pharmacists may increase patient uptake of GP-pharmacist collaborative services, including home medicines reviews, often underused due to geographical isolation or lack of access to patients’ clinical information.
In preliminary results, presented at the 2012 National Medicines Symposium in May, pharmacists identified potential medication-related problems in four out of five patients, following referral from GPs.
Mr Tan said the permanent placement of highly trained pharmacists within Australian GP settings would benefit the community and alleviate the burden on hospital and emergency services.
“The formal integration of pharmacists within a practice is in the best interest of the community, improving patient health outcomes, the use of medicines by patients, staff drug-knowledge and professional collaboration,” Mr Tan said.
“A large proportion of Australians take some kind of medicine every day and pharmacists can offer extensive advice and education to detect and prevent drug-related problems that can result in hospitalisations.
“Pharmacists are highly trained and have the expertise to contribute to the better use of medicines, strengthening the services provided through local practitioners.”
The co-location of pharmacists with GPs would provide patients the opportunity for private consultations at their local clinic or in the home.
Practice pharmacists have been placed in two primary healthcare clinics in Victoria, providing patient consultations, education sessions, drug information services and quality assurance activities. The integration process is being examined over six months.
It is hoped a government-subsidised program will be available in the future, similar to collaborative services already funded for nursing staff and allied health professionals to work in co-located settings.