Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Study Reveals Medication Waste in Danish Healthcare System

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A new study sheds light on the ongoing restructuring efforts within the Danish healthcare system, specifically focusing on the implementation of medication pick-up lockers for outpatients. These lockers, aimed at easing departmental burdens and enhancing patient convenience, allow patients to collect their cost-free medications similar to a package retrieval system. The investigation delves into the types of medications frequently delivered to these lockers and assesses the extent of medicine waste.

In the North Denmark Region, medication pick-up lockers have been introduced to streamline the distribution of cost-free medicines to outpatients. This initiative seeks to address the growing patient numbers and optimize resource allocation within hospitals. The study utilized data from ApoVision to track medication deliveries to these lockers from March to October 2023, uncovering key insights into both medication types and return rates.

Common Medications and Return Rates

During the study period, approximately 30,000 packages of medicine were delivered to the pick-up lockers. Notably, methotrexate, adalimumab, and omalizumab emerged as the most frequently delivered medications. However, these same drugs also topped the list of returned medications, with a return rate of 1.7%. This indicates a significant potential for waste within the system.

The data collection process aimed to estimate the volume of unused medicines by examining the number of packages returned to the hospital pharmacy. The findings revealed that antineoplastic and immunomodulating agents were the predominant categories of medications involved in returns.

Implications for Healthcare Resource Management

The study underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to manage medication waste efficiently. While the focus was on uncollected medications from pick-up lockers, the broader impact of medicine waste across other areas, such as patients’ households, warrants further investigation. Addressing these issues holistically could contribute to better resource allocation and reduced wastage in the healthcare system.

Key Inferences for Healthcare Policy

– Medication pick-up lockers, while convenient, may not fully mitigate medicine waste without additional measures.

– Antineoplastic and immunomodulating agents are high-risk categories for medication returns and waste.

– Future investigations should include the examination of medicine waste within patients’ homes to get a complete picture.

– Better tracking and follow-up systems may help reduce the return rates of high-cost medications.

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The initial findings of this study highlight the complexities involved in managing cost-free medication distribution and the associated waste. Although the introduction of medication pick-up lockers represents a step forward in patient convenience and resource optimization, there remains a need for ongoing analysis and policy adjustments to address the broader implications of medication waste in the healthcare system.

Original Article: Eur J Hosp Pharm. 2024 Jun 26:ejhpharm-2024-004224. doi: 10.1136/ejhpharm-2024-004224. Online ahead of print.

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