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Medical centres adding pharmacists to help curb readmissions

Non-dispensing pharmacists will be integrated into medical centres in the greater Brisbane area to help patients stay out of hospital after discharge.

The intervention is part of a study that aims to improve the transfer of information between hospitals and caregivers and ensure treatment plans remain appropriate to the patient.

“In Australian hospitals, up to 45 per cent of patients discharged from medical units and 61 per cent from geriatric units have an unplanned readmission within a year,” University of Queensland School of Pharmacy researcher Dr Chris Freeman said. “One of the main groups of people at high risk of readmission include those taking multiple medicines."

Freeman added many of the medication-related problems encountered are preventable, and his team anticipates that the embedded pharmacists will help patients negotiate changes to a patient’s dosage and assist in stopping and starting different medicines, as well as follow-up blood tests.

As part of the research project, titled REMAIN HOME, pharmacists will perform a comprehensive review to identify any medication-related problems.

They will assess medication adherence, review the patient medication discharge letter, and discuss any changes made to medication during hospital admission with the patient.

From there, the pharmacists will update medical centre records and inform community pharmacies of the changes.

“After consultation, the patient will see their usual GP to receive any necessary new prescriptions and to consider any changes suggested by the embedded pharmacist,” Freeman said.

The UQ team forecasts that placing pharmacists in general practice could result in $544.87 million savings in healthcare over four years.

The project is funded by the HCF Research Foundation, the Brisbane South Primary Health Network and the Brisbane North Primary Health Network.

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