N.L. pharmacy network to limit drug errors, abuse
Province begins linking pharmacies through electronic records system
Last Updated: Thursday, May 27, 2010 | 1:35 PM ET
Newfoundland and Labrador has started to link up the province's pharmacies through a $26-million electronic system that aims to prevent prescription errors and drug abuse.
The network, which promises to connect every pharmacy in the province over the internet, will warn pharmacists if a drug they are giving a patient may interact badly with another drug that has been dispensed to the same patient at another pharmacy.
"A lot of drugs now do have serious interactions between them, and you, obviously, work with the pharmacy and doctors to try to avoid those," said St. John's pharmacist Chris Hollett.
The electronic pharmacy network, which the provincial health department said will eventually include 190 pharmacies, should also prevent people from getting prescriptions for the same drug from multiple doctors and having them filled at different pharmacies.St. John's pharmacist Chris Hollett believes the network will help patients and pharmacists. (CBC)
"It will be very difficult for anybody to go in with the duplicate prescription to two different pharmacies to get narcotics because it will already be identified as receiving it at a previous location," said Mike Barron, CEO of the Centre for Health Information, a provincial organization helping to develop the network.
The network is already making a difference at one pharmacy that has been connected to the system for a more than a month.
"We got a call from a drug store in Conception Bay North that is also on the same centre of health information network, and he had a customer there who was trying to purchase a codeine product," St. John's pharmacist Tom Healy told CBC News Thursday.
"But when the pharmacist put in the customer's MCP number into the system, it immediately came up [that] the prescription was dispensed at Healy's pharmacy three days before. So, we prevented a narcotic from being overdispensed."
Healy said he has found at least one drawback to the system so far.
"The initial impact on the customer is not going to be good because there is more work for the pharmacist to do to fill a prescription, so, it's going to take a little longer " said Healy.
He said he expects the waits will grow shorter as pharmacists become more familiar with the new system.
Healy predicts it will be at least three years before all of the province's pharmacies are part of the system.
The pharmacy network is a component of the provincial electronic health record program, which is a joint initiative between the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, the provincial government, Canada Health Infoway and regional health authorities.
Health Infoway is a federal government-funded, non-profit organization that is working to accelerate the development of electronic health records in Canada
To date, it and the Newfoundland and Labrador government have committed $17.9 million and $8.6 million, respectively, to develop and implement the pharmacy network.
The provincial government will fund the ongoing operation of the network.
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