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1.  Medication safety in acute care in Australia: where are we now? Part 1: a review of the extent and causes of medication problems 2002–2008 
This paper presents Part 1 of a two-part literature review examining medication safety in the Australian acute care setting. This review was undertaken for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to update a previous national report on medication safety conducted in 2002. This first part of the review examines the extent and causes of medication incidents and adverse drug events in acute care.
A literature search was conducted to identify Australian studies, published from 2002 to 2008, on the extent and causes of medication incidents and adverse drug events in acute care.
Studies published since 2002 continue to suggest approximately 2%–3% of Australian hospital admissions are medication-related. Results of incident reporting from hospitals show that incidents associated with medication remain the second most common type of incident after falls. Omission or overdose of medication is the most frequent type of medication incident reported. Studies conducted on prescribing of renally excreted medications suggest that there are high rates of prescribing errors in patients requiring monitoring and medication dose adjustment. Research published since 2002 provides a much stronger Australian research base about the factors contributing to medication errors. Team, task, environmental, individual and patient factors have all been found to contribute to error.
Medication-related hospital admissions remain a significant problem in the Australian healthcare system. It can be estimated that 190,000 medication-related hospital admissions occur per year in Australia, with estimated costs of $660 million. Medication incidents remain the second most common type of incident reported in Australian hospitals. A number of different systems factors contribute to the occurrence of medication errors in the Australian setting.
PMCID: PMC2733897  PMID: 19671158
2.  Implementation and evaluation of a multisite drug usage evaluation program across Australian hospitals - a quality improvement initiative 
With the use of medicines being a broad and extensive part of health management, mechanisms to ensure quality use of medicines are essential. Drug usage evaluation (DUE) is an evidence-based quality improvement methodology, designed to improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of drug use. The purpose of this paper is to describe a national DUE methodology used to improve health care delivery across the continuum through multi-faceted intervention involving audit and feedback, academic detailing and system change, and a qualitative assessment of the methodology, as illustrated by the Acute Postoperative Pain Management (APOP) project.
An established methodology, consisting of a baseline audit of inpatient medical records, structured patient interviews and general practitioner surveys, followed by an educational intervention and follow-up audit, is used. Australian hospitals, including private, public, metropolitan and regional, are invited to participate on a voluntary basis. De-identified data collected by hospitals are collated and evaluated nationally to provide descriptive comparative analyses. Hospitals benchmark their practices against state and national results to facilitate change. The educational intervention consists of academic detailing, group education, audit and feedback, point-of-prescribing prompts and system changes. A repeat data collection is undertaken to assess changes in practice.
An online qualitative survey was undertaken to evaluate the APOP program. Qualitative assessment of hospitals' perceptions of the effectiveness of the overall DUE methodology and changes in procedure/prescribing/policy/clinical practice which resulted from participation were elicited.
62 hospitals participated in the APOP project. Among 23 respondents to the evaluation survey, 18 (78%) reported improvements in the documentation of pain scores at their hospital. 15 (65%) strongly agreed or agreed that participation in APOP directly resulted in increased prescribing of multimodal analgesia for pain relief in postoperative patients.
This national DUE program has facilitated the engagement and participation of a number of acute health care facilities to address issues relating to quality use of medicine. This approach has been perceived to be effective in helping them achieve improvements in patient care.
PMCID: PMC3182891  PMID: 21871132
3.  Developing a national patient safety education framework for Australia 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2006;15(6):437-442.
In 2004, The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care recognised that the lack of a comprehensive framework describing competencies for patient safety was a barrier to achieving a competent and safe health workforce. This article describes the building of a national patient safety education framework that describes the competencies for healthcare workers.
Develop an educational framework that was patient centred and identified the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by healthcare workers irrespective of their profession, position or location.
The content of the framework was developed using a four‐staged approach: literature review, development of learning areas and topics, classification into learning domains and, lastly, converting into a performance‐sbased format. An extensive consultation and validation process was also undertaken.
A national patient safety education framework was endorsed by The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care in 2005. The framework is already being used to develop curricula and train the trainer programmes in patient safety.
The framework, which draws its educational approach from adult learning principles, was extensively researched and built on the experience of healthcare workers. The next challenge is to test different strategies for implementing the framework.
PMCID: PMC2464900  PMID: 17142595
4.  (Re)form with Substance? Restructuring and governance in the Australian health system 2004/05 
The Australian health system has been the subject of multiple reviews and reorganisations over the last twenty years or more. The year 2004–2005 was no different.
This paper reviews the reforms, (re)structures and governance arrangements in place at both the national and state/territory levels in the last year. At the national level some progress has been made in 2004/05 through the Australian Health Ministers' Council and there is now a national health reform agenda, albeit not a comprehensive one, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in June 2005. Quality and safety was an increasing focus in 2004–2005 at both the national and jurisdictional levels, as was the need for workforce reform. Although renewed policy attention was given to the need to better integrate and coordinate health care, there is little evidence of any real progress this last year. More progress was made on a national approach to workforce reform.
At the jurisdictional level, the usual rounds of reviews and restructuring occurred in several jurisdictions and, in 2005, they are organisationally very different from each other. The structure and effectiveness of jurisdictional health authorities are now more important. All health authorities are being expected to drive an ambitious set of national and local reforms. At the same time, most have now blurred the boundary between policy and service delivery and are devoting significant resources to centrally 'crisis managing' their service systems. These same reasons led to decentralisation in previous restructuring cycles. While there were many changes in 2004–2005, and a new national report to COAG on health reform is expected at the end of 2005, based on current evidence there is little room for optimism about the prospects for real progress.
PMCID: PMC1208850  PMID: 16120207
5.  Competition in health research: the experience of the John Curtin School of Medical Research 
In 2002 the Australian National Competitive Grants System was opened to the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Australian National University as part of a commitment to transparency, competitiveness, and collaboration in national research funding.
The block grant to the John Curtin School of Medical Research had progressively eroded over many years. Access to the National Competitive Grants Schemes and associated infrastructure (through an agreed 'buy-in' price of 20% of block funding) has succeeded in its aims and in reversing this progressive effective decrease in funding.
Access to the National Competitive Grant Scheme has allowed the John Curtin School of Medical Research to contribute more broadly to Australia's health and medical research effort through increased collaboration, in a transparent and competitive funding environment.
PMCID: PMC555854  PMID: 15771773
6.  E-Prescribing: A Focused Review and New Approach to Addressing Safety in Pharmacies and Primary Care 
Research in social & administrative pharmacy : RSAP  2012;9(6):10.1016/j.sapharm.2012.09.004.
E-prescribing, the health information technology (HIT) that enables prescribers to electronically transmit prescriptions to community pharmacies has been touted as a solution for improving patient safety and overall quality of care. However, the impact of HIT, such as e-prescribing on medication errors in acute care settings has been widely studied and show that if poorly designed or implemented, HIT can pose a risk to patient safety by introducing a source of medication errors. Unlike acute care settings, safety issues related to e-prescribing in primary care settings (where e-prescriptions are generated and transmitted) and pharmacies (where e-prescriptions are received) have not received as much attention in the literature. This paper provides a focused review of patient safety issues related to using e-prescribing systems in primary care and pharmacies. In addition, the paper proposes using human factors engineering concepts to study e-prescribing safety in pharmacies and primary care settings to identify safety problems and recommendations for improvement.
PMCID: PMC3709012  PMID: 23062769
7.  Protocol for economic evaluation alongside the IMPLEMENT cluster randomised controlled trial 
The recent development and publication of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for acute low back pain (LBP) has resulted in evidence-based recommendations that, if implemented, have the potential to improve the quality and safety of care for acute LBP. While a strategy has been specified for dissemination of the CPG for acute LBP in Australia, there is no accompanying plan for active implementation. Evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of active implementation of CPGs for acute LBP is sparse. The IMPLEMENT study will consider the incremental benefits and costs of progressing beyond development and dissemination to implementation.
Cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses alongside the IMPLEMENT cluster randomised controlled trial (CRCT) from a societal perspective to quantify the additional costs (savings) and health gains associated with a targeted implementation strategy as compared with access to the CPG via dissemination only.
The protocol provided here registers our intent to conduct an economic evaluation alongside the IMPLEMENT study, facilitates peer-review of proposed methods and provides a transparent statement of planned analyses.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012606000098538
PMCID: PMC2289836  PMID: 18294376
8.  Changes in exposure to ‘life stressors’ in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, 2002 to 2008 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:144.
The Negative Life Events Scale (NLES) has been included in nationally representative surveys of the Indigenous and Australian population since 2002 as a measure of exposure to a range of ‘life stressors’. There has been limited reporting or analysis of estimates of the NLES from these surveys. This paper reports changes in exposure to stressors from 2002 to 2008 for the Indigenous population, and examines inter-relationships between eleven NLES items. Data for the 2006 Australian population is also included for comparative purposes.
Data from the 2002 and 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Surveys (NATSISS) and the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS) were accessed from the Australia Bureau of Statistics in order to determine significant changes in exposure to stressors for the 2002 and 2008 Indigenous population by remoteness and to compare this with the 2006 Australian population. Factor analysis was used to assess the inter-relationships between stressors for the Indigenous and Australian population by remoteness.
In remote locations, between 2002 and 2008, exposure to life stressors decreased significantly for the Indigenous population across seven of the eleven stressors. In non-remote locations, exposure to four of the stressors increased significantly. Exposure to stressors in the 2002 and 2008 non-remote Indigenous population were significantly higher than those for the 2006 Australian population for all items, except ‘alcohol and/or drug problems’ and ‘trouble with the police’, which showed no evidence of a difference. The factor analysis of the NLES for the 2002 and 2008 remote and non-remote Indigenous populations and the 2006 Australian population showed a consistent clustering of items into three groups: social transgressions; grief and trauma; and labour market stressors.
The reduction in exposure to life stressors for the remote Indigenous population may be related to policy and practice changes (e.g. more police, income quarantining, housing construction). The differential change in exposure to life stressors between remote and non-remote locations highlights the importance of presenting data for these geographic locations separately.
PMCID: PMC3923397  PMID: 24512200
Indigenous; Remoteness; Stress; Social and emotional wellbeing; Mental health
9.  Representations and coverage of non-English-speaking immigrants and multicultural issues in three major Australian health care publications 
No recent Australian studies or literature, provide evidence of the extent of coverage of multicultural health issues in Australian healthcare research. A series of systematic literature reviews in three major Australian healthcare journals were undertaken to discover the level, content, coverage and overall quality of research on multicultural health. Australian healthcare journals selected for the study were The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), The Australian Health Review (AHR), and The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (ANZPH). Reviews were undertaken of the last twelve (12) years (1996-August 2008) of journal articles using six standard search terms: 'non-English-speaking', 'ethnic', 'migrant', 'immigrant', 'refugee' and 'multicultural'.
In total there were 4,146 articles published in these journals over the 12-year period. A total of 90 or 2.2% of the total articles were articles primarily based on multicultural issues. A further 62 articles contained a major or a moderate level of consideration of multicultural issues, and 107 had a minor mention.
The quantum and range of multicultural health research and evidence required for equity in policy, services, interventions and implementation is limited and uneven. Most of the original multicultural health research articles focused on newly arrived refugees, asylum seekers, Vietnamese or South East Asian communities. While there is some seminal research in respect of these represented groups, there are other communities and health issues that are essentially invisible or unrepresented in research. The limited coverage and representation of multicultural populations in research studies has implications for evidence-based health and human services policy.
PMCID: PMC2817687  PMID: 20044938
10.  How effective are programs at managing transition from hospital to home? A case study of the Australian transition care program 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:6.
An increasing demand for acute care services due in part to rising proportions of older people and increasing rates of chronic diseases has led to new models of post-acute care for older people that offer coordinated discharge, ongoing support and often a focus on functional restoration. Overall, review of the literature suggests there is considerable uncertainty around the effectiveness and resource implications of the various model configurations and delivery approaches. In this paper, we review the current evidence on the efficacy of such programs, using the Australian Transition Care Program as a case study.
The Australian Transition Care Program was established at the interface of the acute and aged care sectors with particular emphasis on transitions between acute and community care. The program is intended to enable a significant proportion of care recipients to return home, rather than prematurely enter residential aged care, optimize their functional capacity, and reduce inappropriate extended lengths of hospital stay for older people. Broadly, the model is configured and targeted in accordance with programs reported in the international literature to be effective. Early evaluations suggest good acceptance of the program by hospitals, patients and staff. Ultimately, however, the program's place in the array of post-acute services should be determined by its demonstrated efficacy relative to other services which cater for similar patient groups.
Currently there is a lack of robust evaluation to provide convincing evidence of efficacy, either from a patient outcome or cost reduction perspective. As the program expands and matures, there will be opportunity to scrutinise the systematic effects, with lessons for both Australian and international policy makers and clinical leaders.
PMCID: PMC3314563  PMID: 22416921
11.  Improvement in rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease management and prevention using a health centre-based continuous quality improvement approach 
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) remains a major health concern for Aboriginal Australians. A key component of RHD control is prevention of recurrent acute rheumatic fever (ARF) using long-term secondary prophylaxis with intramuscular benzathine penicillin (BPG). This is the most important and cost-effective step in RHD control. However, there are significant challenges to effective implementation of secondary prophylaxis programs. This project aimed to increase understanding and improve quality of RHD care through development and implementation of a continuous quality improvement (CQI) strategy.
We used a CQI strategy to promote implementation of national best-practice ARF/RHD management guidelines at primary health care level in Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory (NT), Australia, 2008–2010. Participatory action research methods were employed to identify system barriers to delivery of high quality care. This entailed facilitated discussion with primary care staff aided by a system assessment tool (SAT). Participants were encouraged to develop and implement strategies to overcome identified barriers, including better record-keeping, triage systems and strategies for patient follow-up. To assess performance, clinical records were audited at baseline, then annually for two years. Key performance indicators included proportion of people receiving adequate secondary prophylaxis (≥80% of scheduled 4-weekly penicillin injections) and quality of documentation.
Six health centres participated, servicing approximately 154 people with ARF/RHD. Improvements occurred in indicators of service delivery including proportion of people receiving ≥40% of their scheduled BPG (increasing from 81/116 [70%] at baseline to 84/103 [82%] in year three, p = 0.04), proportion of people reviewed by a doctor within the past two years (112/154 [73%] and 134/156 [86%], p = 0.003), and proportion of people who received influenza vaccination (57/154 [37%] to 86/156 [55%], p = 0.001). However, the proportion receiving ≥80% of scheduled BPG did not change. Documentation in medical files improved: ARF episode documentation increased from 31/55 (56%) to 50/62 (81%) (p = 0.004), and RHD risk category documentation from 87/154 (56%) to 103/145 (76%) (p < 0.001). Large differences in performance were noted between health centres, reflected to some extent in SAT scores.
A CQI process using a systems approach and participatory action research methodology can significantly improve delivery of ARF/RHD care.
PMCID: PMC3878366  PMID: 24350582
Continuous quality improvement; Rheumatic fever; Rheumatic heart disease; Secondary prophylaxis
12.  Management of people with acute low-back pain: a survey of Australian chiropractors 
Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active.
This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake.
Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37%). Male chiropractors made up 66% of respondents, 75% practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 64%, 71%) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51% (95%CI: 47%, 56%) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95% (95% CI: 91%, 97%) of chiropractors would order an x-ray.
The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3265419  PMID: 22171632
13.  Current state of medical thromboprophylaxis in Australia 
Australia has two published national guidelines for general medical thromboprophylaxis (MT), but the two differ in detail and the basis for patient selection remains uncertain. Several aspects of current guidelines are controversial, as is the proposed design of a dedicated prescribing box in the National Inpatient Medication Chart.
To discuss and comment on the current standing of medical thromboprophylaxis in Australia.
We have marshalled literature known to us from our previous published research, and have applied this knowledge to discuss shortcomings, which, in our opinion, exist in current medical thromboprophylaxis practice, and to suggest solutions.
Australian guidelines are flawed because they are based on unsuitable evidence (incidence of subclinical thrombotic disease) and define eligibility broadly, such that about 80 per cent of patients are considered eligible. They urge that prescribers should “consider” prophylaxis without supplying an adequate basis for doing so. They do not provide grounds for assessing the balance between hazard (in the form of major bleeds) and benefit (thrombotic events avoided). Other clinical factors promoting unnecessary use of medical thromboprophylaxis include the use of age as a risk factor and proposed inclusion of a new DVT prophylaxis section in the National Inpatient Medication Chart (NIMC), which implicitly discourages non-prescription of prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC3941577  PMID: 24611073
Thromboprophylaxis; low molecular weight heparin; risk factor analysis; medical patients; guidelines
14.  Decreasing Medication Discrepancies Between Outpatient and Inpatient Care Through the Use of Computerized Pharmacy Data 
The Permanente Journal  2007;11(2):31-34.
Context: The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) instituted a new regulation in 2006 to improve patient safety by decreasing medication errors. This requires a process for obtaining and documenting a complete list of each patient's current medications at hospital admission and communicating this list to the next clinician (“Medication Reconciliation”).
Objective: We sought to determine whether medication discrepancies between outpatient and inpatient care can be decreased through the use of computerized pharmacy data.
Method: We evaluated outpatient medication prescriptions in 2000 and 2004 using computer-generated data for patients admitted from an Emergency Department to a medical ward. The hospital records and pharmacy data were reviewed to determine which ambulatory medications were ordered at admission, continued as an out-patient, and refilled three months after discharge. In 2004 additional computerized pharmacy data were provided to attending physicians. Ambulatory care “essential prescription medication groups” (cardiac, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, and neurologic) were also evaluated. Medication discrepancies for the years 2000 and 2004 were compared in several categories.
Results: Medication discrepancies were found in all evaluated categories in 2000. The follow-up study showed a decrease in discrepancies for nearly all categories.
Conclusion: Results show that use of outpatient pharmacy data can decrease medication discrepancies in compliance with current JCAHO requirements.
PMCID: PMC3057734  PMID: 21461091
15.  Errors and omissions in hospital prescriptions: a survey of prescription writing in a hospital 
The frequency of drug prescription errors is high. Excluding errors in decision making, the remaining are mainly due to order ambiguity, non standard nomenclature and writing illegibility. The aim of this study is to analyse, as a part of a continuous quality improvement program, the quality of prescriptions writing for antibiotics, in an Italian University Hospital as a risk factor for prescription errors.
The point prevalence survey, carried out in May 26–30 2008, involved 41 inpatient Units. Every parenteral or oral antibiotic prescription was analysed for legibility (generic or brand drug name, dose, frequency of administration) and completeness (generic or brand name, dose, frequency of administration, route of administration, date of prescription and signature of the prescriber). Eight doctors (residents in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine) and two pharmacists performed the survey by reviewing the clinical records of medical, surgical or intensive care section inpatients. The antibiotics drug category was chosen because its use is widespread in the setting considered.
Out of 756 inpatients included in the study, 408 antibiotic prescriptions were found in 298 patients (mean prescriptions per patient 1.4; SD ± 0.6). Overall 92.7% (38/41) of the Units had at least one patient with antibiotic prescription. Legibility was in compliance with 78.9% of generic or brand names, 69.4% of doses, 80.1% of frequency of administration, whereas completeness was fulfilled for 95.6% of generic or brand names, 76.7% of doses, 83.6% of frequency of administration, 87% of routes of administration, 43.9% of dates of prescription and 33.3% of physician's signature. Overall 23.9% of prescriptions were illegible and 29.9% of prescriptions were incomplete. Legibility and completeness are higher in unusual drugs prescriptions.
The Intensive Care Section performed best as far as quality of prescription writing was concerned when compared with the Medical and Surgical Sections.
Nevertheless the overall illegibility and incompleteness (above 20%) are unacceptably high. Values need to be improved by enhancing the safety culture and in particular the awareness of the professionals on the consequences that a bad prescription writing can produce.
PMCID: PMC2695418  PMID: 19439066
16.  The use of the international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF) in indigenous healthcare: a systematic literature review 
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) was endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001 to obtain a comprehensive perspective of health and functioning of individuals and groups. Health disparities exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and there is a need to understand the health experiences of Indigenous communities from Indigenous Australian’s perspectives in order to develop and implement culturally appropriate and effective intervention strategies to improve Indigenous health. This systematic review examines the literature to identify the extent and context of use of the ICF in Indigenous healthcare, to provide the foundation on which to consider its potential use for understanding the health experiences of Indigenous communities from their perspective.
The search was conducted between May and June 2012 of five scientific and medical electronic databases: MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL, Academic Search Complete and PsychInfo and six Indigenous-specific databases: AIATSIS, APAIS-health, ATSI-health, health and society, MAIS-ATSIS and RURAL. Reference lists of included papers were also searched. Articles which applied the ICF within an Indigenous context were selected. Quantitative and qualitative data were extracted and analysed by two independent reviewers. Agreement was reached by consensus.
Five articles met the inclusion criteria however two of the articles were not exclusively in an Indigenous context. One article applied the ICF in the context of understanding the health experience and priorities of Indigenous people and a second study had a similar focus but used the revised version of the International Classification of Impairments, Disability and Handicap (ICIDH-2), the predecessor to the ICF. Four of the five papers involved Indigenous Australians, and one of the paper’s participants were Indigenous (First Nation) Canadians.
Literature referring to the use of the ICF with Indigenous populations is limited. The ICF has the potential to help understand the health and functioning experience of Indigenous persons from their perspective. Further research is required to determine if the ICF is a culturally appropriate tool and whether it is able to capture the Indigenous health experience or whether modification of the framework is necessary for use with this population.
PMCID: PMC3735045  PMID: 23680087
ICF; Indigenous; Healthcare; Person centered; Bio-psychosocial; WHO; Health; Functioning; Review
17.  Medication errors in paediatric care: a systematic review of epidemiology and an evaluation of evidence supporting reduction strategy recommendations 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2007;16(2):116-126.
Although children are at the greatest risk for medication errors, little is known about the overall epidemiology of these errors, where the gaps are in our knowledge, and to what extent national medication error reduction strategies focus on children.
To synthesise peer reviewed knowledge on children's medication errors and on recommendations to improve paediatric medication safety by a systematic literature review.
Data sources
PubMed, Embase and Cinahl from 1 January 2000 to 30 April 2005, and 11 national entities that have disseminated recommendations to improve medication safety.
Study selection
Inclusion criteria were peer reviewed original data in English language. Studies that did not separately report paediatric data were excluded.
Data extraction
Two reviewers screened articles for eligibility and for data extraction, and screened all national medication error reduction strategies for relevance to children.
Data synthesis
From 358 articles identified, 31 were included for data extraction. The definition of medication error was non‐uniform across the studies. Dispensing and administering errors were the most poorly and non‐uniformly evaluated. Overall, the distributional epidemiological estimates of the relative percentages of paediatric error types were: prescribing 3–37%, dispensing 5–58%, administering 72–75%, and documentation 17–21%. 26 unique recommendations for strategies to reduce medication errors were identified; none were based on paediatric evidence.
Medication errors occur across the entire spectrum of prescribing, dispensing, and administering, are common, and have a myriad of non‐evidence based potential reduction strategies. Further research in this area needs a firmer standardisation for items such as dose ranges and definitions of medication errors, broader scope beyond inpatient prescribing errors, and prioritisation of implementation of medication error reduction strategies.
PMCID: PMC2653149  PMID: 17403758
medication errors; paediatrics; epidemiology
18.  Primary health care delivery models in rural and remote Australia – a systematic review 
One third of all Australians live outside of its major cities. Access to health services and health outcomes are generally poorer in rural and remote areas relative to metropolitan areas. In order to improve access to services, many new programs and models of service delivery have been trialled since the first National Rural Health Strategy in 1994. Inadequate evaluation of these initiatives has resulted in failure to garner knowledge, which would facilitate the establishment of evidence-based service models, sustain and systematise them over time and facilitate transfer of successful programs. This is the first study to systematically review the available published literature describing innovative models of comprehensive primary health care (PHC) in rural and remote Australia since the development of the first National Rural Health Strategy (1993–2006). The study aimed to describe what health service models were reported to work, where they worked and why.
A reference group of experts in rural health assisted in the development and implementation of the study. Peer-reviewed publications were identified from the relevant electronic databases. 'Grey' literature was identified pragmatically from works known to the researchers, reference lists and from relevant websites. Data were extracted and synthesised from papers meeting inclusion criteria.
A total of 5391 abstracts were reviewed. Data were extracted finally from 76 'rural' and 17 'remote' papers. Synthesis of extracted data resulted in a typology of models with five broad groupings: discrete services, integrated services, comprehensive PHC, outreach models and virtual outreach models. Different model types assume prominence with increasing remoteness and decreasing population density. Whilst different models suit different locations, a number of 'environmental enablers' and 'essential service requirements' are common across all model types.
Synthesised data suggest that, moving away from Australian coastal population centres, sustainable models are able to address diseconomies of scale which result from large distances and small dispersed populations. Based on the service requirements and enablers derived from analysis of reported successful PHC service models, we have developed a conceptual framework that is particularly useful in underpinning the development of sustainable PHC models in rural and remote communities.
PMCID: PMC2642801  PMID: 19114003
19.  Pharmacy-Based Medication Reconciliation Program Utilizing Pharmacists and Technicians: A Process Improvement Initiative 
Hospital Pharmacy  2013;48(2):112-119.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have an opportunity to impact the quality of the medication histories and improve patient safety by ensuring accurate medication lists are obtained and complete reconciliation has occurred with the admission medication orders by owning the admission medication reconciliation process.
To compare the quality of a pharmacy-based medication reconciliation program on admission utilizing pharmacists and technicians to the usual multidisciplinary process.
This was a retrospective chart review process improvement study at a 186-bed tertiary care inpatient facility. Primary outcomes included both the accuracy of pre-admission medications listed and the reconciliation of those medications with admission inpatient orders. Technicians obtained patient medication histories. Pharmacists checked the technician-obtained medication histories and ensured reconciliation of those medications with admission orders.
Medication accuracy increased from 45.8% to 95% per patient (P < .001) and medication reconciliation increased from 44.2% to 92.8% (P < .001) and remained above benchmark.
A pharmacy-based medication reconciliation program utilizing both pharmacists and technicians significantly increased the accuracy and reconciliation of medications on admission. These gains were maintained for the duration of the 6-month period studied and beyond per continued process improvement data collection.
PMCID: PMC3839485  PMID: 24421448
admission; medication reconciliation; process improvement
20.  Methodology and rationale for the measurement of harm with trigger tools 
Quality & safety in health care  2003;12(Suppl 2):ii39-ii45.
The growing recognition of harm as an unwelcome and frequently unrecognized byproduct of health care has initiated focused efforts to create highly reliable organizations for safe healthcare delivery. While debate continues over the exact magnitude of harm, there is a general acceptance of the need to improve our ability to deliver care in a safer manner. A major barrier to progress in safety has been the ability to effectively measure harm consistently and thus develop effective and targeted strategies to prevent its occurrence. This has resulted in a shift from initiatives focused exclusively on analysis of errors to those targeting events linked to harm. There is a growing recognition of a distinction between errors and adverse events as they often represent unique concepts fostering different strategies for improvement of safety. Conventional approaches to identifying and quantifying harm such as individual chart audits, incident reports, or voluntary administrative reporting have often been less successful in improving the detection of adverse events. As a result, a new method of measuring harm—the trigger tool—has been developed. It is easily customized and can be readily taught, enabling consistent and accurate measurement of harm. The history, application, and impact of the trigger tool concept in identifying and quantifying harm are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1765771  PMID: 14645894
21.  Quality of care: how good is good enough? 
Israel has made impressive progress in improving performance on key measures of the quality of health care in the community in recent years. These achievements are all the more notable given Israel's modest overall spending on health care and because they have accrued to virtually the entire population of the country.
Health care systems in most developed nations around the world find themselves in a similar position today with respect to health care quality. Despite significantly increased improvement efforts over the past decade, routine safety processes, such as hand hygiene and medication administration, fail routinely at rates of 30% to 50%. People with chronic diseases experience preventable episodes of acute illness that require hospitalization due to medication mix-ups and other failures of outpatient management. Patients continue to be harmed by preventable adverse events, such as surgery on the wrong part of the body and fires in operating theaters. Health care around the world is not nearly as safe as other industries, such as commercial aviation, that have mastered highly effective ways to manage serious hazards.
Health care organizations will have to undertake three interrelated changes to get substantially closer to the superlative safety records of other industries: leadership commitment to zero major quality failures, widespread implementation of highly effective process improvement methods, and the adoption of all facets of a culture of safety. Each of these changes represents a major challenge to the way today's health care organizations plan and carry out their daily work. The Israeli health system is in an enviable position to implement these changes. Universal health insurance coverage, the enrolment of the entire population in a small number of health plans, and the widespread use of electronic health records provide advantages available to few other countries.
Achieving and sustaining levels of safety comparable to, say, commercial aviation will be a long journey for health care--one we should begin promptly.
This is a commentary on
PMCID: PMC3415132  PMID: 22913581
Quality of care; quality improvement; improvement methods
22.  The “To Err is Human” report and the patient safety literature 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2006;15(3):174-178.
The “To Err is Human” report published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1999 called for a national effort to make health care safer. Although the report has been widely credited with spawning efforts to study and improve safety in health care, there has been limited objective assessment of its impact. We evaluated the effects of the IOM report on patient safety publications and research awards.
We searched MEDLINE to identify English language articles on patient safety and medical errors published between 1 November 1994 and 1 November 2004. Using interrupted time series analyses, changes in the number, type, and subject matter of patient safety publications were measured. We also examined federal (US only) funding of patient safety research awards for the fiscal years 1995–2004.
A total of 5514 articles on patient safety and medical errors were published during the 10 year study period. The rate of patient safety publications increased from 59 to 164 articles per 100 000 MEDLINE publications (p<0.001) following the release of the IOM report. Increased rates of publication were observed for all types of patient safety articles. Publications of original research increased from an average of 24 to 41 articles per 100 000 MEDLINE publications after the release of the report (p<0.001), while patient safety research awards increased from 5 to 141 awards per 100 000 federally funded biomedical research awards (p<0.001). The most frequent subject of patient safety publications before the IOM report was malpractice (6% v 2%, p<0.001) while organizational culture was the most frequent subject (1% v 5%, p<0.001) after publication of the report.
Publication of the report “To Err is Human” was associated with an increased number of patient safety publications and research awards. The report appears to have stimulated research and discussion about patient safety issues, but whether this will translate into safer patient care remains unknown.
PMCID: PMC2464859  PMID: 16751466
medical literature; patient safety
23.  Perceived need for mental health care and barriers to care in the Netherlands and Australia 
This study of Australian and Dutch people with anxiety or depressive disorder aims to examine people’s perceived needs and barriers to care, and to identify possible similarities and differences.
Data from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being and the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were combined into one data set. The Perceived Need for Care Questionnaire was taken in both studies. Logistic regression analyses were performed to check if similarities or differences between Australia and the Netherlands could be observed.
In both countries, a large proportion had unfulfilled needs and self-reliance was the most frequently named barrier to receive care. People from the Australian sample (N = 372) were more likely to perceive a need for medication (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.3–2.5), counselling (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0–2.0) and practical support (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.2–2.7), and people’s overall needs in Australia were more often fully met compared with those of the Dutch sample (N = 610). Australians were more often pessimistic about the helpfulness of medication (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.4–10.7) and skills training (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.1–8.2) and reported more often financial barriers for not having received (enough) information (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1–5.5) or counselling (OR 5.9; 95% CI 2.9–11.9).
In both countries, the vast majority of mental health care needs are not fulfilled. Solutions could be found in improving professionals’ skills or better collaboration. Possible explanations for the found differences in perceived need and barriers to care are discussed; these illustrate the value of examining perceived need across nations and suggest substantial commonalities of experience across the two countries.
PMCID: PMC3173635  PMID: 20686887
Mental disorders; International comparison; Mental health surveys; Anxiety; Depression
24.  Prescribers' Responses to Alerts During Medication Ordering in the Long Term Care Setting 
Computerized physician order entry with clinical decision support has been shown to improve medication safety in adult inpatients, but few data are available regarding its usefulness in the long-term care setting. The objective of this study was to examine opportunities for improving medication safety in that clinical setting by determining the proportion of medication orders that would generate a warning message to the prescriber via a computerized clinical decision support system and assessing the extent to which these alerts would affect prescribers' actions.
The study was set within a randomized controlled trial of computerized clinical decision support conducted in the long-stay units of a large, academically-affiliated long-term care facility. In March 2002, a computer-based clinical decision support system (CDSS) was added to an existing computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system. Over a subsequent one-year study period, prescribers ordering drugs for residents on three resident-care units of the facility were presented with alerts; these alerts were not displayed to prescribers in the four control units.
We assessed the frequency of drug orders associated with various categories of alerts across all participating units of the facility. To assess the impact of actually receiving an alert on prescriber behavior during drug ordering, we calculated separately for the intervention and control units the proportion of the alerts, within each category, that were followed by an appropriate action and estimated the relative risk of an appropriate action in the intervention units compared to the control units.
During the 12 months of the study, there were 445 residents on the participating units of the facility, contributing 3,726 resident-months of observation time. During this period, 47,997 medication orders were entered through the CPOE system—approximately 9 medication orders per resident per month. 9,414 alerts were triggered (2.5 alerts per resident-month). The alert categories most often triggered were related to risks of central nervous system side-effects such as over-sedation (20%). Alerts for risk of drug-associated constipation (13%) or renal insufficiency/electrolyte imbalance (12%) were also common. Twelve percent of the alerts were related to orders for warfarin. Overall, prescribers who received alerts were only slightly more likely to take an appropriate action (relative risk 1.11, 95% confidence interval 1.00, 1.22). Alerts related to orders for warfarin or central nervous system side effects were most likely to engender an appropriate action, such as ordering a recommended laboratory test or canceling an ordered drug.
Long-term care facilities must implement new system-level approaches with the potential to improve medication safety for their residents. The number of medication orders that triggered a warning message in this study suggests that CPOE with a clinical decision support system may represent one such tool. However, the relatively low rate of response to these alerts suggests that further refinements to such systems are required, and that their impact on medication errors and adverse drug events must be carefully assessed.
PMCID: PMC1513672  PMID: 16622171
25.  Evaluation of current Australian health service accreditation processes (ACCREDIT-CAP): protocol for a mixed-method research project 
BMJ Open  2012;2(4):e001726.
Accreditation programmes aim to improve the quality and safety of health services, and have been widely implemented. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding the outcomes of existing programmes. The Accreditation Collaborative for the Conduct of Research, Evaluation and Designated Investigations through Teamwork-Current Accreditation Processes (ACCREDIT-CAP) project is designed to address key gaps in the literature by evaluating the current processes of three accreditation programmes used across Australian acute, primary and aged care services.
Methods and design
The project comprises three mixed-method studies involving documentary analyses, surveys, focus groups and individual interviews. Study samples will comprise stakeholders from across the Australian healthcare system: accreditation agencies; federal and state government departments; consumer advocates; professional colleges and associations; and staff of acute, primary and aged care services. Sample sizes have been determined to ensure results allow robust conclusions. Qualitative information will be thematically analysed, supported by the use of textual grouping software. Quantitative data will be subjected to a variety of analytical procedures, including descriptive and comparative statistics. The results are designed to inform health system policy and planning decisions in Australia and internationally.
Ethics and dissemination
The project has been approved by the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number HREC 10274). Results will be reported to partner organisations, healthcare consumers and other stakeholders via peer-reviewed publications, conference and seminar presentations, and a publicly accessible website.
PMCID: PMC3449274  PMID: 22864419
Quality in health care; Protocols & guidelines; Clinical governance; Organisation of health services; Accreditation

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