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The national inpatient medication chart: critical audit of design and performance at a tertiary hospital

J Alasdair Millar, Robyn C Silla, Glenda E Lee and Ann Berwick
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (12): 732-733.
Published online: 16 June 2008

In reply: It is understandable that the designers of the national inpatient medication chart (NIMC) should wish to defend it against criticism, especially after 5 or more years of hard work and the major administrative achievement represented by the “top-down” implementation. It is regrettable that the chart at the centre of this otherwise admirable activity turns out to have significant weaknesses compared with the previous medication chart used at Royal Perth Hospital, and that the designers acknowledge this only obliquely by allowing for “future redesign”. Rather, they emphasise secondary outputs such as cross-border familiarity (which we discussed in our article1), “training in structured safe medication practice”, and “collaborative methods”. These supposed advantages are but small crumbs of comfort compared with the imposition of an unsatisfactory chart, loss of local autonomy and increased hazard for patients. There is no evidence that the NIMC has decreased medication errors, defined in relation to patient harm. There was indeed a pilot study, and we referred to it in two different contexts in our paper, but it assessed the chart on the basis of unsatisfactory process-based criteria similar to those employed after the chart was implemented. Perhaps a better indication of the problems of the pilot chart lies in the hundreds of suggested changes made from pilot sites to the NIMC Oversight Committee.2

  • J Alasdair Millar
  • Robyn C Silla
  • Glenda E Lee
  • Ann Berwick

  • Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA.


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