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5PSQ-047 The perceived impact on patient safety and quality of care of pharmaceutical technical assistants on nursing wards: a qualitative study
  1. M De Graef1,2,3,
  2. B Serraes1,
  3. V Van Rompay1,
  4. NE Dijkstra4,5,
  5. ER Heerdink4,6,
  6. T Dilles2,3
  1. 1Clinical Nursing and Allied Health Research and Development Group Cnuah-Rd, Nursing and Paramedical Department- Vitaz Hospital And Health Care, 9100 Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
  2. 2NuPhaC Be, Nurse and Pharmaceutical Care International Expert Consortium, Antwerp, Belgium
  3. 3Department of Nursing Science and Midwifery- Centre for Research and Innovation in Care Cric, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences- University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  4. 4Research Group Innovations in Healthcare Processes in Pharmacology, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  5. 5NuPhaC NL, Nurse and Pharmaceutical Care International Expert Consortium, Utrecht, Belgium
  6. 6Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Clinical Pharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences- Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands


Background and Importance Staff shortages challenges hospital nurses to maintain high-quality medicine management. To support nurses, pharmaceutical technical assistants (PTAs) have been introduced on hospital wards to dispense medication. However, evidence is lacking regarding the impact of PTAs on the quality of care and patient safety.

Aim and Objectives This study explored nurses’, PTAs’ and pharmacists’ experiences and perceptions regarding the implementation of PTAs to support medication dispensation on hospital wards. The process of implementation, role development, and impact on safety and quality of care were investigated to determine critical success factors and opportunities.

Material and Methods Semi-structured interviews with involved healthcare professionals were conducted (December 2022 to March 2023), audio recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was performed.

Results Twenty-eight interviews were conducted with nine nurses, seven head nurses, 10 PTAs and two pharmacists on internal, surgical and geriatric hospital wards. Three main themes emerged: patient safety and quality of care, organisation of care, and role development and collaboration. Implementation of PTAs on hospital wards was perceived to a lower risk of medication errors without compromising care quality. Successful implementation requires a clear role description of PTAs and uniform communication procedure to improve medication safety and care quality, hospital wards must be structurally allocated to the same PTAs, for them to become part of the team. Being part of the team is considered an important aspect to ensure an optimal cooperation between nurses and PTAs. Nurses indicated that collaboration with PTAs challenged them in their role of supervising care and co-working in the team, but it resulted also in reduced workload for pharmaceutical care tasks. PTAs perceived their implementation on hospital wards as a welcome expansion of their role.

Conclusion and Relevance All participants were convinced that implementation of PTAs on hospital wards had a positive effect on nurses’ workload, patient safety and quality of care. Organisational barriers mentioned were limited, yet, will help to further optimise processes and outcomes. In other European countries, PTAs are allowed to perform more tasks on hospital wards.

Critical success factors for the implementation include dedicated assignment of PTAs to hospital wards, clear role description and mutual expectations in the collaboration and communication between PTAs and nurses.

Conflict of Interest No conflict of interest.

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