Reducing medication errors with electronic medicines management

Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust (Wolverhampton) have improved patient safety and saved time by implementing a full electronic medicines management solution in their hospital pharmacy.

By implementing electronic Medicines Management (eMM),  Wolverhampton have replaced their paper-based system,  resulting in  the reduction of prescribing errors and improved patient safety.

The trust use mobile laptops on wards that have a high use of medicines, and desktop PCs for the wards with less usage. By using mobile technology, pharmacy technicians are able to spend more time on the wards which helps reduce medication errors and speed up the prescribing and medications process.

Tracking patient medication to improve safety

eMM allows a full patient medication record (PMR) to be entered which can be easily located if a patient is readmitted to the trust in the future. Within the PMR it is possible to:

  • indicate medicines brought into the trust by the patient
  • indicate required drugs are in stock
  • make a supply request for drugs needing to be ordered.

In order to help save costs, the eMM system shows the formulary statistics of drugs so staff can choose the most cost effective medicines.

Improved stock management

Any supply requests that are made appear on the pharmacist clinical checking screen, which is viewable by all pharmacy staff. This allows staff to make arrangements to find items that are not in stock, even before the clinical check is complete.

There is also an option to rank items to allow dispensary staff to prioritise their work. This helps to allow pharmacy staff to manage their workload better, which consequently reduces the overtime costs.

Automated dispensing

Once the clinical check is entered, the medication is immediately available on the dispensing list. In 2003 the pharmacy department introduced an automated dispensing system so now, when a supply is initiated, the system automatically picks and delivers the medicine whilst the computer prints the label. This is then checked live on screen by the accredited checking technician.

The pharmacy process is now safer and more efficient, saving an average of 40 minutes per item in time taken from the drug order to the clinical checks.