The Difference Between Assuming and Knowing? 3 Seconds.

When it comes to the efficacy of medication, there’s always room for improvement. If the patient receives the wrong medication, or the wrong dose of the right medication, it won’t have the desired effect. Sometimes it can even lead to a fatal outcome. A quick double-check of the substance – from the pharmacy to the operating room – can ensure that the patients receive exactly what’s ordinated. It provides certainty in seconds.

Patient safety standards around personalized medication aren’t up to speed with the healthcare development in general. Huge improvements are being made all the time in other areas, but for various reasons, medication errors still occur when they really don’t have to. To simply rely on the label of the drug comes with great risk. Because even if the medication is compounded by professionals, there’s still a chance for a mix-up or an incorrect dose. Although several renowned hospitals in both Europe and the U.S. are in the forefront when it comes to addressing these issues, there’s still a long way to go.

Pharmacolog Goes West (of Sweden)
The whole concept of personalized treatment is of course positive, as it’s proven to be beneficial for the patients, but at the same time it requires even more caution and responsibility from the caretakers. Pharmacolog CEO Mats Högberg recently held a seminar at the Life Science Days in Gothenburg, where he spoke about the challenges the industry’s facing with personalized medication and the overall safety standards.

Here’s a small summary of the discussion that followed the seminar:

How come the use of control devices for personalized medication isn’t more established?
It’s hard to answer. When it comes to safety standards, personalized medication is where radiotherapy was in the 1970’s, which isn’t good. Today, radiotherapy has a high level of control and uses adaptive techniques that ensures that each individual patient receives the right treatment throughout the whole treatment cycle. Perhaps the lack of easy-to-use devices in medication originates from the fact that personalized medication has one foot in med-tech and the other in the pharmaceutical industry? People find it hard to grasp. But there’s certainly a demand. Our challenge is to introduce it in such a way that it complements the important work of the caretakers instead of interrupting them.

Are healthcare staff so much in control and the error levels so low that there’s no actual need to increase the safety?
No. Studies show error rates around 3% of pharmacy prepared drugs, something no other industry would ever tolerate. In fact, everyone in the chain of care is very much aware of the problems, but as we all know hospital staff work under enormous pressure. Therefore, it’s only natural that they focus on the patients rather than process improvements.

Watch the whole seminar and Q&A with Mats Högberg here. What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to contact us or continue the discussion on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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Photo: Alex&Martin