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Patient safety

Guidance published on sharing prescribing data between pharmacists and GPs to improve patient safety

Guidance on how to share patient prescribing data in a standardised format to improve communications between healthcare professionals should result in better patient safety, according to the body that published it.

The guidance from the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB), published on 29 April 2019, establishes how pharmacists, hospitals and GPs should record data about patients’ medications so that it can be shared between care settings.

The PRSB said in a statement that pharmacists, hospitals and GPs currently “need to manually translate prescribing information to ensure the correct medicines, dosages and timings are identified and administered” when a patient is transferred.

But under the new system, medication information will be “shared between health and care systems in a standard machine-readable format with translation rules so that medication information can be machine transferred and translated to the appropriate prescribing syntax for professionals to review and action appropriately”.

The PRSB said the aim was to reduce the number of errors caused by re-entering medications information as well as provide “more efficient and reliable and unambiguous information for professionals”.

NHS Digital has developed technical guidance for IT suppliers to ensure the system works.

The PRSB guidance notes that there are several areas where this guidance can be implemented, including “hospital discharge to general practice or community pharmacy”.

In Wales, the PRSB noted that hospitals had already begun transferring medication information to pharmacies using its “e-discharge summary standard” in an effort to support patients’ ongoing care after they are discharged from hospital.

Maureen Baker, chair of the PRSB, said: “Improving medicines information sharing by computerising processes and replacing paper-based ones that were prone to errors is a significant achievement. Thanks to the combined efforts of NHS England, NHS Digital and the PRSB, prescribing for patients should be safer, more efficient and fewer medicines will be wasted.”

This latest set of data sharing guidance comes after standards were published in November 2018 that would allow pharmacies to share vaccination information and any emergency medicines supplied.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206493

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