New research into making prescribing safer for patients in prisons

Researchers in Manchester have begun looking into how to increase prescribing safety for people who are in prison, according to Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH).

The work, entitled ‘Implementing prescribing safety indicators in prisons: a mixed methods study’, was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. It involved the authors searching electronic health records (EHRs) to find out how many people in prisons could be impacted by issues around their prescription medication.

Along with the National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre – which is a partnership between The University of Manchester and The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust – GMMH’s Research Capability Funding helped finance the project.

Researchers worked with prison staff and already published studies to identify potentially hazardous prison prescribing risks and come up with 13 ‘Prescribing Safety Indicators’ (PSIs). They then linked up with pharmacists across two large prisons, to discover how often people were affected by these.

According to GMMH, results included that “more patients were affected by some PSIs than others” and that staff interviewed said that, “having people who can take on the leadership of the searches and working together as a team to respond to them was important.”

Professor Darren Ashcroft, Director of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC, commented: “Our next step is to use these results to launch a new study. We are now working with a prison health care provider to test the introduction of the electronic health record searches and a way for staff to work together to respond to them across a large group of prisons nationally. This will take place over the next 18-24 months to see how effective this is at improving medication safety.”

You can find the full study – published on 8 October 2021 and authored by Aseel S. Abuzour,Esnath Magola-Makina,James Dunlop,Amber O’Brien,Wael Y. Khawagi,Darren M. Ashcroft,Petra Brown,Richard N. Keers – online, here.