Prioritizing medication safety in care of people with cancer: clinicians' views on main problems and solutions.
Car LT., Papachristou N., Urch C., Majeed A., Atun R., Car J., Vincent C.
BACKGROUND: Cancer care is liable to medication errors due to the complex nature of cancer treatment, the common presence of comorbidities and the involvement of a number of clinicians in cancer care. While the frequency of medication errors in cancer care has been reported, little is known about their causal factors and effective prevention strategies. With a unique insight into the main safety issues in cancer treatment, frontline staff can help close this gap. In this study, we aimed to identify medication safety priorities in cancer patient care according to clinicians in North West London using PRIORITIZE, a novel priority-setting approach. METHODS: The project steering group determined the scope, the context and the criteria for prioritization. We then invited North West London cancer care clinicians to identify and prioritize main causes for, and solutions to, medication errors in cancer care. Forty cancer care providers submitted their suggestions which were thematically synthesized into a composite list of 20 distinct problems and 22 solutions. A group of 26 clinicians from the initial cohort ranked the composite list of suggestions using predetermined criteria. RESULTS: The top ranked problems focused on patients' poor understanding of treatments due to language or education difficulties, clinicians' insufficient attention to patients' psychological distress, and inadequate information sharing among health care providers. The top ranked solutions were provision of guidance to patients and their carers on what to do when unwell, pre-chemotherapy work-up for all patients and better staff training. Overall, clinicians considered improved communication between health care providers, quality assurance procedures (during prescription and monitoring stages) and patient education as key strategies for improving cancer medication safety. Prescribing stage was identified as the most vulnerable to medication safety threats. The highest ranked suggestions received the strongest agreement among the clinicians. CONCLUSIONS: Clinician-identified priorities for reducing medication errors in cancer care addressed various aspects of cancer treatment. Our findings open up an opportunity to assess the congruence between health care professional suggestions, currently implemented patient safety policies and evidence base.