Non-prescription medicines: a process for standards development and testing in community pharmacy
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The objective of the study was to develop and test standards of practice for handling non-prescription medicines.
In consultation with pharmacy registering authorities, key professional and consumer groups and selected community pharmacists, standards of practice were developed in the areas of Resource Management; Professional Practice; Pharmacy Design and Environment; and Rights and Needs of Customers. These standards defined and described minimum professional activities required in the provision of non-prescription medicines at a consistent and measurable level of practice. Seven standards were described and further defined by 20 criteria, including practice indicators. The Standards were tested in 40 community pharmacies in two States and after further adaptation, endorsed by all Australian pharmacy registering authorities and major Australian pharmacy and consumer organisations. The consultation process effectively engaged practicing pharmacists in developing standards to enable community pharmacists meet their legislative and professional responsibilities.
Main outcome measures
Community pharmacies were audited against a set of standards of practice for handling non-prescription medicines developed in this project. Pharmacies were audited on the Standards at baseline, mid-intervention and post-intervention. Behavior of community pharmacists and their staff in relation to these standards was measured by conducting pseudo-patron visits to participating pharmacies.
The testing process demonstrated a significant improvement in the quality of service delivered by staff in community pharmacies in the management of requests involving non-prescription medicines. The use of pseudo-patron visits, as a training tool with immediate feedback, was an acceptable and effective method of achieving changes in practice. Feedback from staff in the pharmacies regarding the pseudo-patron visits was very positive.
Results demonstrated the methodology employed was effective in increasing overall compliance with the Standards from a rate of 47.4% to 70.0% (P < 0.01). This project led to a recommendation for the development and execution of a national implementation strategy.
KeywordsAustralia Community pharmacist Non-prescription OTC Standards of practice Training
Funding for this project was obtained from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing through the 3rd Community Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program.
Conflicts of Interest Professor Benrimoj and Dr de Almeida Neto have been involved with professional pharmacy organisations in Australia, which may have an interest in the development of standards of practice for the provision of non-prescription medicines.
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