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New information standard aims to reduce medication errors

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A new information standard has been developed to support improved medication and allergy/intolerance information sharing across healthcare services in England.

The standard, created by NHSX and NHS Digital, aims to standardise medication message content.

This will enable the transfer of prescription information across health and care settings in England to help reduce medicines related errors and improve patient safety.

NHS Digital said the standard will enable medicines information to be more efficiently shared between NHS and social care organisations, including primary and secondary care, from hospitals and GP practices to residential care homes, mental health trusts, and pharmacies.

As well as providing clinicians with a more detailed and consistent source of medicines-related information across all care settings, the standard will also enable healthcare professionals to obtain medicines information in a quicker, more efficient manner, saving valuable time and improving patient care.

NHS Digital clinical lead for the interoperable medicines programme, Shahzad Ali, said the standard will be particularly beneficial in reducing medication errors when patients transfer between care locations.

“Having access to good quality information is critical for clinicians when making decisions about the patients in their care. As a practising clinician, I have seen first-hand the burden clinicians can face when medicines information is incomplete or inconsistent.

“This new standard will save healthcare professionals valuable time accessing key medicines information, provide clinicians with access to a richer source of information, consistent across all care settings, and, in turn, help reduce potential medicines related errors and improve patient safety.”

The standard was commissioned by NHSX and developed by NHSX and NHS Digital in consultation with INTEROPen, the Professional Record Standards Body, UK FHIR and the Interoperable Medicine Standards Working Group.

Dr Simon Eccles, deputy CEO of NHSX and national chief clinical information officer said:

“This new standard will make medicine prescribing safer for patients and easier for clinicians, reducing errors in prescription and improving the monitoring of medications that can cause harm.

“This is the result of a true collaborative effort between NHSX, NHS Digital, industry and the frontline that will make a real difference to the care and support local clinicians can provide to their patients.”

The standard came into effect this month and NHS and social care organisations will need to be compliant with it by 31 March 2023.

View the Standard here.

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