About the role
An MSO is the named individual within an organisation responsible for encouraging medication incident reporting and learning. The National Patient Safety Alert “Improving medication error incident reporting and learning” recommends that all organisations have a named MSO.
The MSO can also offer medication safety specialist expertise and act as a centralised individual to work collaboratively on medication safety and communication of medication risks and associated mitigation strategies within the organisation. The MSO can offer a leadership role to the medication safety agenda.
Responsibilities of an MSO
The overarching responsibility for ensuring medicines are used safely within an organisation may sit within a number of roles. The responsibility for safe use of medicines is multidisciplinary and healthcare professionals need to work collaboratively to minimise harm from medicines.
MSO responsibilities include, but not limited to:
- Being an active member of the national medication safety officer network and any local/regional medication safety groups,
- Acting as the organisational link with the MHRA and NHSE to receive essential communications and escalate concerns related to the safe use of medications,
- Implementing local actions to improve medication safety which align with national safety initiatives, including national patient safety alerts,
- Managing medication incident reporting in the organisation; improving the reporting and learning, and
- Being an active member of the medication safety committee (or equivalent) within the organisation.
Responsibilities of an MSO varies between organisations and depends on the needs of the organisation and the experience of the named MSO. Often additional MSO responsibilities will be associated with delivering the medication safety agenda for the organisation and system, ensuring they align with the national patient safety strategy.
Medication safety team
The success of MSOs delivering the medication safety agenda has led to some organisations developing medication safety teams. These include more junior members of the pharmacy team, pharmacy technicians, nurses and other HCPs. Teams with clinical link staff or medicines champions are ideal.
Examples of medication safety team organograms are available on the MSO workspace on NHS Futures
Benefits of a team
Having a multidisciplinary team promotes engagement with frontline staff across all professions thereby creating a more holistic understanding of medication safety issues.
Junior membership develops a future medication safety focused workforce.
Job descriptions for an MSO role and their associated team members will have variation dependent on the organisational structure and requirements. There is no nationally agreed job description for either MSOs or members of the medication safety team within an organisation. The MSO workspace on NHS futures contains some example job descriptions that have been shared by existing MSOs and their teams.
A named board director or equivalent has responsibility for medication safety within an organisation. An MSO will need to work closely with this person to escalate all medication safety issues and provide organisational assurances related to medication safety.
Organisations require governance systems that support the role of the MSO and provide opportunities to escalate medicines concerns effectively.
Getting started in post
MSOs new to post may find the following actions helpful:
- register with the MHRA as the named MSO for the organisation – email to request a registration form
- ensure access to the organisational generic MSO email account.
- contact the chair of the local/regional MSO network for an introduction to the group.
- make initial contact with key individuals or groups within your organisation to ensure future effective collaboration.
- contact with your organisation’s incident reporting system manager or lead and ensure access your local incident reporting system
- join the MSO workspace on Future NHS. To request access to this workspace email the national MSO network lead.
- join the NHS Patient Safety workspace on Future NHS
- join the Medicines Safety Improvement Programme (MedSIP) Future NHS workspace
- follow @MSONetwork on twitter and LinkedIn
MSOs in Practice
To realise the full potential of the role there is Practice support for the Medication Safety Officer (MSO)
Leaving the role
When a postholder leaves it is essential that a seamless handover is made to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the MSO are continued. Handover must include continued access to the generic MSO email account to ensure essential communications are still received and acted on appropriately.
The new MSO details need to be updated on the national MSO database by emailing to request a change of details form