Introduction and Problem Statement
Research shows that patient safety remains a major source of concern for health care globally. While patient safety comprises a myriad of multiplexed factors, the quality of pharmaceuticals, their distribution, storage, use and disposal have a greater bearing compared to other factors. A number of studies show that consumers believe that FDA, Congress and US pharmaceutical companies are the underlying sources of the problems with pharmaceuticals, others show that improper use, storage and disposal of medicine by patients poses a greater challenge. Proper handling of chemical reactions remains a challenge both from the physician and patient points of view. It is thus worth acknowledging that the entire pharmaceutical cycle, from the bench through to disposal, contains pitfalls that pose great danger to patient safety and should thus should be reviewed in the light of improving the standards and safety of using pharmacological agents.
In a research survey of the US public, to investigate consumer perceptions on drug safety by Olsen and Whalen (2009) two major issues of drug safety were raised. First, the majority of US citizens perceived that the FDA, Congress and US pharmaceutical companies bear significant responsibilities in ensuring drug safety Olsen& Whalen (2009). Secondly, a significant percentage of those surveyed displayed distrust in the quality of medicine from pharmaceutical companies. It is believed that pharmaceutical companies produce substandard drugs that could potentially harmful to their consumers. In order to fundamentally reform the safety system, it is proposed that initiatives that challenge a change in leadership, professionalism of participation and work of pharmaceutical companies. It is also proposed legislation should enact to ensure the quality of pharmaceuticals by design. It is however important to note that quality pharmaceutical products alone cannot guarantee drug safety.
Patient education in pharmaceutical safety is of fundamental importance in drug safety. According to Shrank and Avorn (2007), drug data on tags and inserts has always been a major source of information for patients. It’s, however, argued that this information is always varying, lacking, and challenging for patients to read and comprehend. Patients require some basic understanding of the dangers and benefits of their recommended drugs and how to manage them in order to take them safely. For this reason, it is important that better ways of communicating prescriptions to patients in a simple and easy manner be developed. Shrank and Avorn, (2009) suggest that a well-ordered and consistent leaflet presenting complete information on the dangers and benefits of medication should be put on container labels. It is also recommended that more research be done on the optimal ways of communicating written prescription to patients.
Knowledge of handling missed prescriptions is also an important aspect of drug safety. Although the psychiatric nursing literature addresses a number of issues concerning medication education, it is argued that information surrounding missed-dose management is inadequately provided. Zind et al (1992) in an informal survey found that patients have divergent views on how to handle missed doses and suggest that patients should be taught about missed-dose management and the use of reminders to minimize missed dose should be encouraged. Storage and disposal of medication is also a challenge in drug safety management. In a study on the storage and disposal of unused medications among Serbian people, Kusturica, Sabo, Tomic, Horvat, and Solak (2012) found that poor storage and disposal of medicine at home has often-exposed children to accidental poisoning. Moreover, people are always inconsiderate of the environmental implications when disposing drugs. The authors suggest that health workers need to be upbeat in patient education on storage of medications, more appropriate pharmaceutical disposal techniques ought to be cherished and adopted (Kusturica et al, 2012).
Information about Drug drug interaction (DDI) and chemical interactions is also of fundamental significance in drug and patient safety. According to Seminerio and Ratain, (2013) the lack of DDIs understanding by health care professional is a major risk factor in patient safety. As a preventive measure, certain drugs were removed from the US market to counter DDI. Seminerio and Ratain suggest that drug labels ought to be constantly updated on potential interactions. With increasing technology, pharmacist-developed computer software are being used in prescription and producers of these DDI software and databases are called upon toensure that their products are accurate and provide useful information to the prescriber (Seminerio & Ratain, 2013).
Conclusion and Recommendation
The five articles in this review provide significant information relating to drug safety and patient safety as a whole. Poor medicine quality, inadequate techniques of communicating prescriptions to patients, poor knowledge of missed dose management both by patients and nurses as well as poor storage and disposal techniques are highlighted as the basic obstacles to safe drug management in healthcare. The information provided in these articles is reliable and illustrates that drug safety remains a major problem in society.
From this review, the ghosts of pharmaceutical agents are identified mainly as poor pharmaceutical policies that lead to poor drug quality and inadequate patient and nurse education in fundamental drug safety areas. Information derived from this review can be used to advocate for patient safety and safe nursing practices in a number of ways; information on drug quality can be used to enact strict drug production policies to ensure that all drugs produced are standardized and cannot therefore harm patients. Second, data concerning patient and nurse education could be used to develop effective patient and nurse education programs on safe drug use, storage and disposal. Availability of quality drugs and proper knowledge of their use by consumers will ensure for patient safety and safe nursing practices and for that reason, the information provided in this review is of great significance in an attempt to improve the standards and safety of using pharmacological agents.
Kusturica, M. P., Sabo, A., Tomic, Z., Horvat, O., & Solak, Z. (2012). Storage and disposal of unused medications: Knowledge, behavior, and attitudes among Serbian people. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 34(4), 604-10.
Olsen, A. K., & Whalen, M. D. (2009). Public perceptions of the pharmaceutical industry and drug safety. Drug Safety, 32(10), 805-10. doi
Seminerio, M. J., & Ratain, M. J. (2013). Preventing Adverse Drug-Drug Interactions: A Need for Improved Data and Logistics. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 88(2), 126-8.
Shrank, W. H., & Avorn, J. (2007). Educating patients about their medications: The potential and limitations of written drug information. Health Affairs, 26(3), 731-40.
Zind, Roberta, MSN,R.N., C.S., Furlong, Candace,R.N., M.S.N., & Stebbins, M., PharmD. (1992). Educating Patients About Missed Medication Doses. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 30(7), 10-14.