Patient self-medication – a change in hospital practice

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Aims and objectivesThe purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-medication programme (SMP) for inpatients of the Nursing Convalescent Unit, a 26-bed unit with medical and surgical patients.BackgroundSelf-medication is an important part of self-management of chronic illness. Self-medication is a way of allowing patients to give themselves their medications in hospital after receiving education instead of the usual practice of medications administered by a Registered Nurse (RN).DesignThe pilot study was undertaken over a six-month period to examine the relationship between a programme of self-medication and patient knowledge and adherence to medication regimens, number of medication errors, efficiency in relation to the number of nursing hours associated with the SMP, patient and nursing satisfaction.MethodsA total of 220 patients participated in the study. The SMP included three levels of patient self-administration of medications: level one, medications administered by a RN; level two, self-medication directly supervised by a RN and level three, self-medication indirectly supervised by a RN. Outcome measures included staff and patient satisfaction, number of medication errors, time taken by nurses to undertake activities related to the SMP and the number of patients who achieved levels two and three.ResultsStudy findings showed that 45% of patients remained on level one, 26% achieved level two and 29% achieved level three. There were no patient initiated medication errors during the study period. Efficiencies were identified in staff workload associated with patient discharge procedures. Overall, nurses perceived that the SMP increased their knowledge of medications and contributed to effective patient education.ConclusionsIn selected patients, the SMP was an effective aid for improving adherence to medication regimens.Relevance to clinical practiceCollaboration between nurses, medical staff, pharmacists, patients and carers is integral to the success of in hospital SMP.

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