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SafeRx®: safer use of high risk medicines

SafeRx®: safer use of high risk medicines

What is SafeRx®?

SafeRx® is an initiative by our Quality Use of Medicines team that aims to increase awareness among primary health care professionals and patients about how medicines, particularly high risk medicines, can be used safely and effectively.

SafeRx® includes a series of resources for primary health care professionals and patients that are hosted on the SafeRx® website (www.saferx.co.nz); they are also linked from general practitioner patient management systems’ software and the New Zealand Formulary (www.nzf.org.nz).

Value: ConnectedWhat are we trying to achieve

The objectives of SafeRx® include:

  • raising awareness about problems associated with the use of high risk medicines and reducing mistakes to prevent harm to patients
  • providing educational materials and references to primary healthcare teams to facilitate safe prescribing, accurate dispensing and careful monitoring of patients taking high risk medicines
  • creating an environment within primary care that raises the profile of high risk medicines to promote safer use

What have we done?

In 2008, SafeRx® was developed by Waitemata DHB to promote the safe and effective use of high risk medicines, following consultation with general practitioners (GPs), community pharmacists and practice nurses.

A survey was undertaken to assess the needs of primary care doctors regarding quality use of medicine information.  Their suggestions were used to develop the project, including how information should be formatted and distributed.

Doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists in the Waitemata region were invited to participate in the campaign and receive resources.  SafeRx® bulletins were sent to health professionals to provide high risk medicine information aimed at ensuring appropriate and safe prescribing, dispensing, and monitoring for patients

Sample bulletin from SafeRx
A sample bulletin from SafeRx® (View more bulletins on SafeRx® website)

The SafeRx® website - www.saferx.co.nz was launched in February 2009 for health professionals working in primary care (general practitioners, practice nurses, practice managers, pharmacists and midwives).  This online resource includes electronic versions of all bulletins which are distributed as mailers.  The bulletins on the website are available both in summary and comprehensive fully-referenced versions.

SafeRx website
SafeRx® website - www.saferx.co.nz

Resources from the website are linked to general practice prescribing software, as well as through the MIMS website and the New Zealand Formulary (national medicines information resources).

Health professionals voluntarily join this campaign and receive resources via email regarding high risk medicines.

Bulletins and patient guides are written by our Quality Use of Medicines team of pharmacists.  The bulletins are peer-reviewed by relevant secondary care specialists and the patient care guides are reviewed by a consumer group.  The resources are then distributed to primary care teams that have signed up via the SafeRx® website.

Sample patient guide from SafeRx
A sample patient guide from SafeRx® (Download or order patient guides from the SafeRx® website)

Did we make a difference?

SafeRx® has been evaluated by the Auckland School of Pharmacy.  Most SafeRx® members felt it was applicable to their daily practice, the bulletins were unique and provided ‘to-the-point’ safety messages, and SafeRx® has the potential to improve the safe use of medicines in New Zealand.

SafeRx® contributes to the DHB’s strategies to improve the safe use of high risk medicines.  SafeRx® resources add value to current evidence-based publications.  SafeRx® encourages principles of good practice with high risk medicines whilst adapting to the needs of the DHB’s health professionals and patients.

Where to from here?

SafeRx® successfully completed 'The Health and Quality Challenge 2012' which was organised by the Health and Safety Quality Commission (HSQC).  This enabled SafeRx® resources to be offerred further afield to health professionals from all four Northern Region DHBs.

  • All seven PHOs were contacted and meetings were held with five of them.
  • Every general practitioner, most practice nurses, and every pharmacy in the Northern Region were personally invited to join SafeRx®.
  • Wider distribution of invitations to join up to the website was facilitated by a new database management system.
  • The www.saferx.co.nz site was upgraded, including direct ‘sign-up’ from the site.
  • The SafeRx® database more than doubled to well over a 1000 members and the website now has over 300 unique users per month.

The format works, the high rate of new members joining demonstrates interest and demand.  The non-invasive, inclusive approach, with strong branding and a focus on quality, has made SafeRx® work.  The database infrastructure is in place to roll out nationally and many members are now from other regions.