No clinical pharmacist at University Maternity Hospital Limerick, watchdog finds

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Hiqa inspection: University Maternity Hospital Limerick

Hiqa inspection: University Maternity Hospital Limerick

THERE WAS no clinical pharmacist at University Maternity Hospital Limerick, the health watchdog found following an announced inspection in Limerick this summer. 

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has published a critical report into medication safety at University Hospital Limerick. 

Four inspectors from the Hiqa examined a number of areas in UHL’s medication safety in an all-day inspection on May 29 last.

The inspection was conducted on foot of a previous inspection in May 2017, when officials identified a number of risks.

During this year’s inspection, the watchdog identified an “ongoing lack” of clinical pharmacy services “to meet the size and services” provided at the Dooradoyle hospital.

Hiqa also found that there was no clinical pharmacist at University Maternity Hospital Limerick. The inspector said that this was of “significant concern to Hiqa considering the size and complexity of the services provided by the hospital”.

In response, UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said the group faces “significant challenges” in providing clinical pharmacy services “due to insufficient resources”.

Prof Cowan said that the group submitted business cases to the HSE for the funding of 19.5 additional pharmacists. “However, to date, we have not received funding or approval for this submission.”

Hiqa found that there was a lack of out-of-hours pharmacy cover at UHL. There was a 97% increase in the number of medication incidents reported at UHL in 2017. Last year, there were 272 incidents, 134 more than the number in 2016. Hiqa said that they were informed that this major increase was as a result of promoting a “just culture”, through awareness information publicised on-campus.

Prof Cowan said that a senior pharmacist has been appointed to oversee the development of this e-formulary, and that it is a “resource intensive process” to which he or she dedicates one day a week.

Hiqa added: “Overall, inspectors found that the hospital had endeavoured to develop medication safety support structures and processes at the hospital. However, inspectors found disparities in the implementation of medication safety measures outlined to inspectors and what was observed by inspectors in clinical areas.”

UHL was praised for setting up a medication safety committee. In a letter from Prof Cowan to Hiqa, she said that much work has been carried out to enhance medication safety by the drugs and therapeutics committee “to address deficiencies” that had been identified in May 2017.