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Improve brand and batch number recording, urge drug safety professionals

New research from the UK’s Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) has found that hospital pharmacists, doctors and nurses only recorded batch numbers for biologic medicines between 38% and 58% of the time during routine hospital practice.

Further, an analysis of spontaneous adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports showed that brand names were only included 38% of the time, while batch number traceability was only 15%.

Because of the study results, the DSRU is encouraging health professionals to improve the recording in order to aid patient safety, suggesting that it has “some way to go to encourage health professionals to record this information.”

Professor Saad Shakir, director of the research unit said: “As we move towards more electronic prescribing, this should help reduce the problem because brand and batch numbers can be more readily available. But in the meantime, it’s vital we educate and inform health professionals so they understand why this seemingly small task is so important.”

The unit reminded that European pharmacovigilance legislation from 2012 states health professionals should record the exact name and batch number to aid traceability, and that improved traceability of biologic medicines would help reduce medication errors, improve batch-recalls and also improve inventory management.

A more electronic-based future could hold the solution to improved recording, as “With more and more UK healthcare institutions moving from paper-based recording to electronic-based recording, this could provide an opportunity to facilitate routine brand name and batch number recording without excessively increasing the burdens for healthcare professionals” suggested Kevin Klein, programme manager at Lygature, who assisted DSRU in conducting the study.

He continued, “However, current limitations of barcodes, which are often not printed on the single unit dose and lack encoded batch number information, need to be addressed first to create cost-effective solutions to improve the traceability in the hospital setting.”