National implementation of standards of practice for non-prescription medicines in Australia

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Journal Article
Pharmacy World and Science, 2009, 31 (2), pp. 230 - 237
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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. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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