Practical guidance on effective collaboration opportunities to promote medication safety improvements

Benefits of collaboration

Collaboration improves the way all healthcare professionals can work together to deliver the medication safety agenda.  This can lead to improved communication, support system wide change, encourages innovation and ultimately has the potential to reduce medication related harm.

Local collaboration

There will be a number of key individuals and groups within the organisation where close working relationships will benefit the safety agenda.

Medication Safety Officer (MSO)

An MSO is integral in the delivery of the medication safety agenda. They are a key individual for inclusion in discussions related to medication safety.

Chief Pharmacist

Working closely with the Chief Pharmacist (or named equivalent) is essential. This relationship supports a coordinated response to medication safety issues and can help champion the medication safety agenda at board level.

This relationship will be paramount for an MSO who is not directly in the pharmacy team.

Patient Safety Specialists

Patient safety specialists are patient safety leaders in healthcare organisations and their time is dedicated to patient safety work. They have been designated to provide dynamic senior patient safety leadership.

Governance or Risk Lead (and team)

Within an organisation there will be roles that focus on governance and risk, providing organisational oversight for assurance purposes.

Their understanding of the MSO role and those individuals with a responsibility for leading the medication safety initiatives, will ensure that medication safety remains on the organisation’s governance agenda, and that the value of the MSO role reaches its full potential.

Medical Device Safety Officer (MDSO)

An MDSO is the named individual within an organisation responsible for encouraging medical device incident reporting and learning. The National Patient Safety Alert “Improving medical device incident reporting and learning” recommends that all organisations have a named MDSO.

There is significant cross over between medicines and medical devices, in particular with safe practice and learning from incidents.  Good communication between the MDSO and the MSO (or equivalent) will foster organisational learning and ensure a coordinated response to patient safety alerts and incidents.

Medication Safety Committee

The characteristics and name of this committee will vary between organisations.  The function will be to act as an escalation route for safety concerns and, within an organisational governance structure, provides assurance to the board that the organisation meets locally agreed standards for medication safety

Ideally the committee will be multidisciplinary and have patient representation.

The National Patient Safety Alert “Improving medication error incident reporting and learning” recommends that the committee has oversight of the organisational learning from medication incidents and local actions to improve medication safety.

Medicines Advice (MA) team

A strong working relationship with the organisation’s medicines advice team (or equivalent) will be beneficial.  This ensures that queries raised to the service which lead to the identification of harms or potential harm are communicated to the MSO (or equivalent) for reporting and management to allow for learning.

Benefits of networks

Sharing best practice is a fundamental part of role for anyone working within medication safety. There are a number of regional meetings and groups that support effective networking and sharing of resources and information.

Regional MSO networks

There are a number of regional and local MSO groups. These group provide opportunities for shared learning and support across the locality to work together with the implementation of safety initiatives.

These groups allow for setting of local safety workplans to respond to regional priorities. They provide timely virtual support for issues of urgency as well as scheduled meetings with a set agenda to address longer term safety initiatives.

A key role of an MSO is to network and share learning and best practice from across the system within a region within the organisation, and vice versa which makes joining the regional network essential. Details on meeting dates and how to contact the chairs of these groups are available on the MSO workspace on Future NHS workspace.

Specialised networks

There are some MSO networks that find value in sharing information among smaller more specialised MSO groups, for example MSOs working within a specific patient group or setting.  While smaller groups provide an opportunity to provide focus to discussions, it is important that the value of wider collaboration opportunities from system wide MSO groups is not lost and that MSOs from these groups continue to engage in the regional and national MSO networks.

The Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group includes MSOs working in community pharmacy.

National MSO network

Every MSO is expected to be an active member of the national network.  This will involve attending the monthly MSO webinar and sharing resources thought to be of value to other MSOs.

MSO webinar

Participants are encouraged to actively participate in the monthly MSO webinar chat to share local experience, safety concerns and initiatives. MSOs are actively encouraged to present at the webinar and should contact the national MSO network lead to discuss.

Dates of the webinar are found on the MSO workspace on Future NHS workspace.

MSO workspace

The network provides an information repository for sharing resources developed by MSOs which have the potential for being replicated or adapted for use in other organisations.  The MSO workspace on Future NHS workspace has an area called ‘MSO resources for MSOs by MSOs’.

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