Medications and the Bushfire Emergency in NSW

The medical observer today had an article on GPs involved in the response effort including helping patients out with lost scripts as people left their homes with minimal or no belongings.

There are two ways you can obtain medications besides seeing your doctor. Your pharmacist can provide three days emergency supply or can contact your doctor on your behalf to confirm the medication and ensure the scripts are sent to the pharmacy “as soon as practicable” as stated in the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulations 2008 (NSW).

There are also ways to have authority prescriptions ordered earlier and pick up an early supply of your medication if you have the script but no medication.

All these are encompassed in the relevant state and federal law but brought together in the the advice provided by the federal Department of Health for areas affected by bushfire.

The document also has information for pharmacists on claiming for prescriptions if phone lines are down or their prescription claim is destroyed by fire.

Download (PDF, 126KB)

Twitter and Microblogging for Public Health

What benefits can twitter and other microblogging sides bring to Public Health? This sideshow is a couple of years old now (hence the more detailed explanation of what Twitter etc is than I would expect today) but is still relevant.

Can you think of any other uses?

Two Meetings Highlight Disparity in eHealth in Remote Australia

Meeting 1. E-Health Conference, Revolutionising Australia’s Health Care

An invitation only two day seminar on e-Health was held in Melbourne on November 30 and December 1st. Apparently a “draft concept” of the shared e-health record concept was shown. It seems like there is $55 million splashing about for projects based on the personally controlled e-health record (more about money later on).

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon gave the opening address. Here is part of what she had to say.

Part of our job in embracing this change and exploring further opportunities is to explain to the wider public the benefits of this big step into the future.
Let’s consider some of the situations that face clinicians and patients today.

Take the case of a young mother whose two children suffer from asthma.

The children might have tried many asthma drugs on and off, and keeping track of what each child has tried is challenging – for parents, for doctors, for hospitals.
Or consider the case of a Melbournian retiree escaping to Darwin for a holiday, becoming sick and being raced to hospital by ambulance.

He arrives without his current tablets and is not in a condition to talk about his medical history. What does the ED team need to know to make the treatment effective?

Or let’s think about a carer’s perspective for a moment. Hundreds of thousands of Australians care for a loved one, many of whom can’t participate in their own care which might involve a GP, then local pharmacist, the district nurse, specialists and the local hospital.

There’s a constant worry that the wrong medication might be taken at the wrong time. These fears are well grounded – medication errors currently account for 190,000 admissions to hospitals each year (my italics).

And take the case of the hundreds of thousands of Australians with chronic disease. Many of whom want to better manage their diseases, but lack the connection over their information that can make this happen.

These scenarios reflect the kinds of real-life situations that occur all around Australia every day.

national electgronic health transition authority

Let me digress a bit here. It does have something to do with the second meeting.

Pharmacists reviewing medication histories and more pharmacists in wards in hospitals reduce error rates. And an electronic patient record should reduce them even further.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) are where Aboriginal Australians wish to receive their healthcare. There are five pharmacists I know of that work full time for an ACCHO.

Meeting 2. 28th June 2010 No title, attended by stake holders in remote Indigenous Health

This meeting was called after a presentation and some networking at the National Medicines Symposium. It was to discuss the lack of dispensing software, tools and training for remote area S100 ACCHOs and other Aboriginal Health Services.

  • Dispensing is usually done by Aboriginal Health Workers, Doctors and Remote Area Nurses who in the main have have no specific training for this task and may under-appreciate its importance in Quality Use of Medicines. In some states this may be illegal
  • Dispensing systems either stand alone or incorporated into electronic patient management systems for tasks such as labelling, recording of supplied medication and stock control are for the most part primitive or non-existent. Indeed in many cases medicines are dispensed with handwritten, incomplete, or no labels at all.
  • Yes, that’s right. We are spending millions on eHealth but in remote Australia we still can’t print a legible label for a patient’s medication. Does it surprise anyone that there seems to be no money to rectify this lack of not only dispensing, but no pharmacist involvement?

    Is it too far a stretch to think we are building a whizz bang house, but out bush it is on very poor foundations?

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