The Medication Safety Officer (MSO) role

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Understanding the role and responsibilities of the MSO in practice will assist organisations in delivering their medication safety agenda

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:

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

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.

Organisational oversight

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:

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

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