Patient safety

Patient safety lies at the heart of all representations made by EAHP and its member associations. The importance of patient safety for hospital pharmacy practice has also been manifested in a dedicated section of the European Statements of Hospital Pharmacy. As stewards of patients' medication safety, hospital pharmacists are the key stakeholders ensuring the safe, effective and rational use of medicines by upholding the "rights" of patients. This includes improving the safety of using medications, especially high-risk medication and look-alike and sound-alike medications, through their close surveillance as well as advising on the most appropriate use of medicines.

In October 2020, EAHP's member associations adopted a new position paper on patient safety specifically focusing on medication safety. In particular medication errors, which occur when a medicine has been inappropriately prescribed, prepared, dispensed or administered to a patient, are a key concern for hospital pharmacists. 

In its position paper, EAHP

  1. recommends a wider application of different risk management tools, including but not limited to single unit dose barcoding, risk management and quality control committees and computerised order entry systems in hospitals to lower medication errors for the benefits of patients.
  2. advocates for the uptake of closed loop medication management to facilitate a faster and more accurate administration of medicines in hospitals.
  3. recommends the implementation of clinical pharmacy services that can guarantee the medication appropriateness, reconciliation and the personalisation of therapies to further enhance the safety and the quality of the pharmaceutical care in Europe.
  4. calls on national governments and health system providers to guarantee an adequate number of hospital pharmacists and the full utilisation of pharmacy services to improve concordance.
  5. requests the strengthening of interprofessional collaboration and communication among healthcare personnel in all healthcare settings.
  6. recommends the universal application of infection prevention and control measures by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) among healthcare professionals.

Read EAHP's Position Paper on Patient Safety HERE

Conceptual framework of patient prioritisation & definition of pharmaceutical acuity

Limited healthcare resources, a rise in demand for services and the emergence of a global pandemic has meant that hospital pharmacy teams are seeking out ways to work more efficiently to maintain patient safety. One such approach is the use of prioritisation tools that direct the delivery of pharmacy services to patients who need them most. 

Indeed, the European Statements of Hospital Pharmacy asserts that ‘Hospital pharmacists should develop, in collaboration with other stakeholders, criteria and measurements to enable the prioritisation of hospital pharmacy activities’. However, although there are many tools or processes in use to support prioritisation, there is ambiguity and variation in terminology when describing this process. 

The term ‘patient acuity’ is commonly used within nursing and other areas of healthcare to determine a patient’s requirements for care and several definitions of this term exist. In pharmacy, the word acuity is sometimes used to describe a patient’s need for pharmaceutical care; yet, it has not been defined nor explained.

Therefore, the University of Manchester and EAHP partnerts to develop This project that aims to develop a conceptual framework of patient prioritisation for pharmacy services and a definition of pharmaceutical acuity. This will provide a shared understanding both within the pharmacy profession and across the wider healthcare team as to the meaning and purpose of acuity in the context of pharmaceutical care as well as inform the future research agenda in this area. 

The full report can be found here

The agreed definition for Patient acuity was:

“Pharmaceutical acuity is an attribute of a patient, determined by an assessment of the likely requirement for pharmacy services, and used to direct and prioritise pharmacy workflow and workforce to ensure the right patient is seen by the right pharmacy professional at the right time - an approach that seeks to reduce medication-related problems and ensure person-centred care.”


Last update: 22 March 2023