National implementation of standards of practice for non-prescription medicines in Australia
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In Australia, there are two categories of non-prescription medicines: pharmacy medicines and pharmacist only medicines. Standards were developed to define and describe the professional activities required for the provision of these medicines at a consistent and measurable level of practice. Objective Our objective was to implement nationally a quality improvement package in relation to the Standards of Practice for the Provision of Non-Prescription Medicines. Methods Approximately 50% of Australian pharmacies (n = 2,706) were randomly selected by local registering authorities. Trained pharmacy educators audited each community pharmacy in the study three times, 7 weeks apart on Standards of Practice for the Provision of Non-Prescription Medicines, Visit 1 involved the educator explaining the project and conducting an assessment of the pharmacy’s level of compliance. Behaviour of community pharmacists and their staff in relation to these standards was measured by conducting pseudo-patron visits. Pseudopatron visits were conducted at Visit 2, with the educator providing immediate feedback and coaching and a compliance assessment. Visit 3 involved a compliance assessment, and a second pseudo-patron visit for those pharmacies that had performed poorly at the first visit. Results At Visit 1, the lowest levels of compliance were to the standards relating to the documentation process (44%) and customer care and advice (46%). By Visit 2, more than 80% of pharmacies had met most criteria. At Visit 3, compliance had significantly improved compared to Visits 1 and 2 (P < 0.001). The lowest levels of compliance were to criteria which required written operating procedures for specific tasks, but these also improved significantly over time (P < 0.001). Conclusions Professional practice in relation to the handling of pharmacist only and pharmacy medicines improved considerably as measured by the auditing process, and the results indicate that Australian pharmacies are well-equipped to provide high quality service to consumers of these medicines. The acceptability of national implementation of these standards of practice in Australia indicates that such an approach could be taken internationally.
KeywordsAustralia Community pharmacist Implementation Non-prescription OTC Quality improvement Standards of practice Training
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Pharmacy Boards and pharmacy staff in participating in the project.
Conflicts of interest
We declare that Professor Benrimoj, Dr de Almeida Neto, and Dr Kelly have been involved with professional pharmacy organisations in Australia, which may have an interest in the development and implementation of standards of practice for the provision of non-prescription medicines.
Funding for this project was from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing through the 3rd Community Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program.
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