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Addressing the Polypharmacy Challenge in Older People

The Polypharmacy Challenge Blog


Doing safety through care in the risky business of polypharmacy

Have you ever wondered what work goes into making up prescriptions? This paper, hot off the press, invites you behind the pharmacy counter, to witness the work pharmacy staff do to safely dispense medicines.

The number of prescription medicines is on the rise and this makes prescribing, dispensing and taking medicines ever more complex.
We show how pharmacy staff who are working within a fast-moving, high-risk environment achieve safe dispensing, through their focus on:
  • care for the technology
  • care for each other and
  • care for patients.
We join a number of authors who are bringing ‘care’ to the foreground to show what healthcare workers actually do, often within organisational cultures that reduce care to ‘tickboxes in an attempt to standardise this most unpredictable of human activities
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Boots: Pharmacists under pressure?

One of our research participants alerted us to this investigative news documentary recently screened on BBC One as part of its ‘real-life stories and investigations’ TV programme, Inside Out. This programme was timely for us as we’re currently undertaking fieldwork in pharmacies.

The documentary focuses on three tragic cases where patients died after being given medicines prescribed for another patient. It then set out to make a link between dispensing errors and staff shortages. There was a particular focus on Boots’ unwillingness to disclose information about the model it uses to calculate appropriate staffing levels – this being identified as a ‘trade secret’ and summoning up a sense of suspicion.
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