Medication safety effort for seniors earns Aurora national recognition

MILWAUKEE A new and unusual patient safety initiative, aimed at improving medication safety in the medical clinic, has won Aurora Health Care national recognition from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

The Institute selected Aurora’s Walworth County Patient Safety Council for a Cheers Award, which honors individuals, organizations and companies that have set a standard of excellence in the prevention of medication errors and adverse drug events.

Aurora’s WCPSC represents a new approach to the issue of medication safety. Patients and a safety expert from Midwest Airlines joined with Aurora physicians and pharmacists to improve medication safety for local senior citizens through a grant from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The WCPSC is believed to be the first model that brought patients and providers together to develop strategies for improving medication safety for seniors in their community.

“A key element of our commitment to enhance safety is the involvement of the community, which has helped us to approach our initiatives from the patient’s perspective,” stated Kathryn Leonhardt, Aurora’s patient safety officer and medical director of care management.

“From the initial design stages to the implementation of the tools, we applied a grassroots, public health approach to build this program as a community effort,” Leonhardt said. “Patients partnered with us to help design and disseminate tools and educate the community to work collaboratively with their physician to ensure the medical record accurately reflected the medications a patient is taking.”

The efforts included distribution of medication bags and lists to seniors in the county. There were ongoing presentations on improving communications between patients and their physician and care team. The initial focus was on the five Aurora Clinics in Walworth County. The effort later was extended to community groups. Through the initiative, the accuracy of medication lists in the doctor’s office improved from 69 percent to 81 percent.

Work is under way to replicate the process throughout Aurora. “Consumers Advancing Patient Safety believes that the perspective, the wisdom and the will of patients and families in partnership with providers from around the world provides the most powerful contribution to ensuring a truly authentic and sustainable transformation in patient safety,” stated Susan Sheridan, CAPS co-founder and president. “We applaud Aurora for recognizing the value of partnering with consumers in this medication safety project.”

Login or Register to post a comment.