Pharmacy assistants on the hospital ward
The nursing profession faces many challenges: an aging population, more complex healthcare needs, and a growing shortage of healthcare professionals. This imbalance between healthcare demand and supply necessitates a redesign of current healthcare processes. Medication process on hospital wards is a routine but complex activity, involving multiple steps (prescription, dispensation, preparation, double-checking, administration and evaluating) and various healthcare professionals. In the medication process, there are specific actions for nurses (such as administering), but there is also overlap in actions that can be performed by other healthcare professionals (e.g. dispensing and preparing).
At dispensing and administration stage, errors are common (32-38% of all medication errors that harm patients). Medication errors can be caused by structural factors in nursing practice, including high workload, stressful environments, distractions, multitasking and interruptions. Studies suggest pharmaceutical technical assistants can contribute to hospital wards to substantial improvement of medication dispensation. As an alternative solution, a general hospital in Belgium, implemented pharmacy assistants on nursing wards to support the medication process. There is limited scientific evidence regarding the integration of pharmacy assistants into multidisciplinary structured care teams.
With this study we aim to provide answers to the following research questions:
1. What are the experiences and perceptions of members of the multidisciplinary structured care team (pharmacy assistant, pharmacist, (head) nurses, management) regarding the role development and implementation of pharmacy assistants to support the medication process in the nursing department?
2. What potential benefits, criteria, and contextual factors (both inhibiting and promoting) are important in the role development and implementation of pharmacy assistants to support the medication process in the nursing department?
3. What roles can pharmacy assistants take on within the interprofessional team involved in the medication process in the nursing department, using the elements outlined in the 'NuPhaC-EU framework for nurses' role in interprofessional Pharmaceutical Care in Europe'?
Prof Rob Heerdink (promotor)
Prof Tinne Dilles (promotor)
Prof Nienke Dijkstra
Marjan De Graef