Views on sharing discharge information with pharmacists

Focus groups reveal different opinions on which information should be shared with community pharmacists.

Bryony Dean Franklin, professor of medication safety at UCL School of Pharmacy

It has been proposed that a new electronic system designed to transfer discharge information from hospitals to GPs in Wales should also be sent to community pharmacists for the purposes of providing discharge medicines reviews. However, the Welsh Information Governance Board has requested more information on how this process could be safeguarded to protect patient confidentiality.

“It was identified that the views of the public and the potential users of the [Discharge Medicines Review] service were required,” said Rhian Rowlands, presenting her research at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) annual conference on 7 September 2014.

Focus groups involving a total of 28 participants were conducted across three Health Boards in Wales. Study participants were broadly supportive of the sharing of discharge information with community pharmacists. However, there were varying opinions on which information should be shared, with many expressing the view that only enough information for the pharmacist to determine if the medicines are safe and appropriate should reach the pharmacist. The security of electronic transfer through email and the security of the information once received by the pharmacy was also a concern for some participants.

Chair of the ‘Enhancing patient care through evaluation and research’ stream at the RPS conference, Bryony Dean Franklin, expressed her disappointment that some participants would be happy for the information to be sent to a GP but not a community pharmacy and did not recognise that their community pharmacist would be held by the same ethical and professional responsibilities as their GP to protect patient confidentiality.

Rowlands agreed: “I think a lot of this stems from a lack of knowledge about pharmacy services. Many of the participants had not heard of the Discharge Medicines Review service in Wales despite some of them being regular inpatients. Preserving patient confidentiality seemed to more of an issue than not wanting the pharmacist to receive the information, particularly in smaller communities.”

Further work is planned to extend the study to gain the views of the wider population in Wales.

The conference abstract is published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 11 October 2014, Vol 293, No 7831;293(7831):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066498

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