Patient care and safety has been given a big boost at a South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire NHS trust, which is believed to be the first to roll-out the ‘paperless’ Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (ePMA) system across all its inpatient areas.
Hand-written prescriptions are being consigned to the history books at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH and the benefits to patients and services are immense, said Richard Banks, the Trust’s Director of Health Informatics.
“We have been on this journey for about four years, working closely with our services, other NHS and external organisations and pharmacists to reach this milestone in our digital prescribing roll-out. Historically, we had to rely on time-consuming paper prescriptions being processed manually, now we can achieve the same outcome in seconds from secure NHS laptops and computers, added Richard, who headed the Trust’s multi-million-pound Digital Aspirant Programme – a major investment in information technology.
“Going forward, almost all the Trust’s prescribing and medicines administration will be managed electronically, with paper medicine charts and hand-written prescriptions being a feature of the past.
“It is run from the same Electronic Patient Record – SystmOne – used by GPs across the country for prescribing. We are improving patient safety by removing the risk of medication errors, and speeding up the time it takes to prescribe, check, supply and administer medicines. This in turn is giving clinicians more times to spend with their patients.
“Crucially, because medication records are stored electronically, they can be viewed round the clock by clinicians. They also become an integral part of the patient’s health record, which they can see via the NHS app.”
Clinicians using electronic prescribing have welcomed the system’s patient care and efficiency improvements, including its ability to track medicine usage. Dr Michael Seneviratne, from the RDaSH’s Forensic Learning Disability Service said completing paper drugs cards was very time-consuming, often taking hours in a busy ward.
“The process has been speeded up considerably and more patient safety benefits have been introduced as part of the transfer to electronic record keeping. Before a prescription is actioned the system automatically searches for any risk of new drugs interacting with a patient’s existing medication. The same checking process takes place against any allergies a patient may have to identify any potential health reactions. It does in seconds what would take a clinician a very long time when processing many prescriptions”, added Dr Seneviratne.
Wards now using electronic prescribing in Doncaster are Tickhill Road Hospital’s Hazel, Hawthorne and Magnolia, plus St John’s Hospice, and Brodsworth, Cusworth and Skelbrooke, which form the nearby Acute Mental Health Unit. New Beginnings, the substance misuse treatment centre at Balby, is also electronically prescribing.
In Rotherham, Swallownest Court’s four wards – Osprey, Sandpiper, Goldcrest and Kingfisher – are also online. As are the Brambles and Glade within The Woodlands unit, to the rear of Rotherham District General Hospital.
And in North Lincolnshire, Scunthorpe’s Great Oaks Mental Health Unit, is also benefiting from the electronic prescribing investment.