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Going online . . . Looking forward to making the full switch to online records at Oamaru Hospital are (from left) Waitaki District Health Services quality assurance coordinator Colleen Myers, Oamaru Hospital nursing director Yvee Thomas and clinical director Dr Pragati Guatama. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The days of paper charts being used at Oamaru Hospital to monitor medications for patients are coming to an end.

Waitaki District Health Services, the Waitaki District Council-controlled company that owns and operates the hospital, has confirmed charts will be replaced by Medchart, an online-based, automated medication system.

The system will eliminate the risk of errors being made when medications are administered, while at the same time improving communication between nursing, medical and pharmacy staff.

Waitaki District Health Services clinical director Dr Pragati Gautama said the system was used by many hospitals in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Nearly all hospitals across the Southern DHB already use Medchart.

“I’ve worked with Medchart before and it’s a great tool to reduce ambiguity around administration of drugs and increase the time nurses can spend caring for patients.”

Waitaki District Health Services quality assurance co-ordinator Colleen Myers said she and her staff closely monitored patients for any medication errors and while those found had not harmed patients, one error was one too many.

“Most errors are down to situations that we can prevent from happening with an automated medication system. An automated system detects interactions between different medications or raises an alarm if the patient has an allergy to a specific drug. The system for example will automatically send out an error message if a dose has been forgotten.”

It would eliminate “complex, time-consuming manual and paper-driven medication management processes”, she said.

The system has been introduced to staff across several forums this month and would be installed in June.

Once in place, the system will be supported by 24/7 phone support.

Dr Gautama said staff were supportive of the change, which would benefit patients in the future.

“We need a system that is future-proof. By implementing a safe prescribing system, we continue to put the patient care at the forefront of our thinking.”