The Care Quality Commission has urged all hospitals and GP practices to ensure they are sharing “timely, complete” information on changes to patient medication.
The call comes after a CQC survey, published on Tuesday, found that information shared between GPs and hospitals when a patient moves between services is often “patchy, incomplete and not shared quickly enough”, increasing the risk of medication related patient safety incidents.
The survey of 280 GP practices found that almost a quarter are not systematically providing hospitals with information on previous drug reactions, and more than one in 10 are not providing information on allergies when a patient is admitted to hospital.
Additionally, 81 per cent of the GP practices surveyed said details of prescribed medicines contained in hospital discharge summaries were incomplete or inaccurate “all of the time” or “most of the time”.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said the NHS needs a “change of attitude” in recognising how important it is that clinicians “pass the baton smoothly between services”.
“Not all adverse drug reactions are preventable, but the potential risks are clear. It is important that basic systems to share essential patient details are working effectively to get the right information to clinicians at the right time to minimise these risks. It is clear from this study that services have some way to go before this routinely happens in the way it should,” she said.
NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett said NHS organisations need to improve the way they share information on medication to ensure frontline staff are kept informed of a patient’s situation once they have been discharged.
“Sharing and co-ordinating information about patients moving through the system is an integral part of any healthcare service. Keeping up to date and accurate patient records is vital if clinicians are confident their patients are receiving the right treatment and follow-up care,” he said.
“Having robust systems in place for admissions and discharge medication errors allows both GPs and PCTs a clear picture on where processes and communication can be improved upon,” he added.
Effective management of medicines will be a requirement of trusts’ registration with the CQC, which comes into force in April 2010.