Pharmacist advocates for medicine education

Medicine safety: Wheatbelt Health Centre Pharmacy managing pharmacist Georgia Bolden is working towards health service collaboration. Photo: Anna Cornish.

Medicine safety: Wheatbelt Health Centre Pharmacy managing pharmacist Georgia Bolden is working towards health service collaboration. Photo: Anna Cornish.

A local pharmacist is encouraging health service providers to work together to combat the rising prevalence of people taking duplicate or incorrect prescribed medication.

Wheatbelt Health Centre Pharmacy managing pharmacist Georgia Bolden has urged for collaboration following the release of the Medicine Safety: Take Care report by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

According to the report, 250,000 hospital admissions annually are a result of medication-related problems, costing $1.4 billion.

It also found 1.2 million Australians have experienced an adverse medication event in the last six months.

Ms Bolden said the report highlighted the importance of medicine safety and that pharmacies were a place to help with community education.

"Medicine safety is something people need to be aware of at all the different levels of our community, right from children through to grandparents and the elderly," she said.

"It is understanding that medicines can cause problems in their own right and trying to eliminate that.

"Because of medicine shortages there is a lot of cases of people being swapped between brands and that might mean a total change in the colour and shape of their medication.

"It is a really common place of error where people might be doubling up not realising or not being consistent.

"A pharmacist can sit down and look through your medication and find out what is going on.

"Ultimately it is for the safety of our people."

Ms Bolden said the town of Northam had the opportunity to collaborate between health services to address the issue.

"We have got relationships between providers - the pharmacists can talk to the doctors and we can call up and talk to the specialists at the hospital with the discharging teams," she said.

"That makes it so much easier, so we can really look after and provide a warp-around care for our elderly people, who really need it.

"I think that it is fairly valid to say that it is generally our older people who are taking incorrect medications.

"Elderly people are often on multiple medications.

"Especially if that person is not seeing a consistent GP or jumping between specialists, often things can get duplicated by accident and if you don't always go to the same pharmacy we may not always pick up that you are on two things that are similar."

The pharmacist, with more than 20 years' experience, said if people had concerns about the effects their medication was having on their health, they should visit their local pharmacy.

"We are the medicine experts and that is something that we need to make known," Ms Bolden said.

"We are not here to sell toothpaste and toilet paper, we are here to help you with your medicine.

"If somebody is on five or more regular medications, there is a very high possibility that they are suffering from an adverse effect from that.

"A great deal of the older Northam population would be included in that bracket.

"The things that we can do to improve those statistics is encourage people to take their medications into their pharmacist and we will sit down and work it out for you.

"It is approved by the local GPs - they like that we are doing this. Because of our relationships with the GPs they respect this process and it helps their job become more effective."