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Position paper on patient safety
  1. Aida Batista1,
  2. Piera Polidori2,
  3. Stephanie Kohl3
  1. 1Pharmacy, Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, EPE, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
  2. 2Department of Clinical Pharmacy, ISMETT, Palermo, Italy
  3. 3Policy & Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacists, Brussels, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Ms Stephanie Kohl, Policy & Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacists, Brussels 1200, Belgium; Stephanie.Kohl{at}

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Hospital pharmacists: making the difference by improving medication safety

Patient safety and quality of care are a priority for hospital pharmacists all across Europe. The European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) has manifested the importance of patient safety for hospital pharmacy practice in a dedicated section of its European Statements of Hospital Pharmacy.1 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 (LASA) medications, through their close surveillance as well as advising on the most appropriate use of medicines. While some prescribing, dispensing and administration may not cause harm, it may not be cost-effective or beneficial for the patient. The abovementioned phrase 'appropriate use' encompasses a multitude of situations.

Patient safety, which lies at the heart of all representations made by EAHP and its members, covers many aspects. EAHP’s position on patient safety specifically focuses 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. Throughout the medication use process specific measures must be taken by healthcare professionals (figure 1). For hospital pharmacists these include improving medication safety by reducing available harm through using risk assessment procedures.

Figure 1

The medication use process from a patient perspective.

Even before a patient is treated for a specific disease, hospital pharmacists ensure the safety of the patient throughout the care pathway. These include actions linked to the hospital formulary, such as selecting narrow-spectrum antibiotics to prevent resistance, and implementation of the decision of the Drug and Therapeutics Committee, the proper selection and procurement as well as the application of appropriate quality assurance strategies for the medication use processes to …

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  • Collaborators Delegates at the 50th EAHP General Assembly.

  • Contributors This position paper was approved and adopted by the delegates at the 50th EAHP General Assembly in October 2020.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.