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Almost 4,000 drugs prescribed electronically at WGH thanks to new innovative technology

Sue Howard, Matron for Surgery

[A]n investment of approximately £180,000 in new ward drug dispensing trolleys at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has transformed medicines prescribing and administration, with almost 4,000 drugs prescribed electronically at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) in the week after going live on 24 April 2018.

The electronic system aims to:

  • Cut down the time clinical staff spend on paper notes so they have more time to spend caring for patients
  • Aims to reduce avoidable harms associated with medications
  • Will eventually replace current paper processes once rolled out across all three of the Trust’s main sites.

Over the next few months it is hoped the project will be rolled out at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital with around 2,000 clinical staff benefitting over the Trust’s three main sites.

The administration of drugs to patients while they are on the ward will be carried out using the mobile computers and the trolley has been designed specifically to meet the requirements identified by the Trust’s nursing and pharmacy staff.

Sue Howard, Matron for Surgery at WGH, UHMBT, said: “Staff love the new system and find it is much safer for patients. Our team has fed back that it is much easier than anticipated to use especially when administering drugs. The team have got on board with the change and are all really positive.”

In addition to the trolleys, iPads have been purchased that will be used in the clinical preparation room within each ward where injectable medicines are prepared. The iPads contain software designed to assist staff during the preparation of intravenous medicines and infusions that may be given to the patient during their inpatient stay. This provides staff with up-to-date guidance on the recommended methods and has been designed so the Trust will not store any patient identifiable data. The new iPads will also reduce any delays on intravenous doses.

The Trust’s I3 team has provided online access from the iPad to other medication safety resources including the Morecambe Bay Joint Formulary, the British National Formulary (BNF), the BNF for children and micro guide to support antimicrobial stewardship.

Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “The project has really transformed the way staff work for the better. The new ward drug dispensing trolleys reflect the Trust’s commitment to the NHS requirements of a ‘paperless record initiative.’”

“When the project has been rolled out at the RLI and FGH around 2,000 nurses and doctors will benefit from the new system. It will reduce risks associated with paper prescriptions and enhance care for our patients.”

Dr Andy Maddox, Executive Lead for Medicines Management at Morecambe Bay CCG said: “GPs have certainly noticed significant quality and safety improvements in patient care in the years that they have been using electronic prescribing.

“The use of electronic prescribing within University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust will further increase the effective way the whole health system works together to provide safe and high quality care for its patients.”

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