August 8, 2023

Guiding analgesic use among patients

Northern Health recently created a pilot program with Safe Care Victoria (SCV) focusing on analgesic stewardship across Northern Hosptial Epping.

The program is led by SCV and Alfred Health and involved six health services, including Northern Health, to develop strategies within each organisation to guide and review opioid and other analgesic use, and ultimately improve acute pain management and reduce avoidable medication-related harm.

Since the launch almost 18 months ago, Northern Health was successful in obtaining funding for full-time Analgesic Stewardship (AGS) Pharmacist, Joyce Anthony.

Joyce commenced in her role in February 2023, and has been involved in developing protocols and procedures, monitoring prescribing trends, and educating on analgesic use within the health service. Joyce works on a referral basis to review patients with complex pain needs and who may be on high/multiple opioid use. She is also part of the Acute Pain Services (APS) team.

An Analgesic Stewardship Committee, consisting of representatives across Pharmacy, Quality, Emergency, Surgical, Medical, Palliative Care and APS, meets monthly to review analgesic-related incidences, discuss new therapies, education packages and strategies to address current gaps to meeting the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s (ACSQHC) Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard.

“Our Analgesic Stewardship Committee and Pharmacy department have collectively learned an enormous amount from the program content provided by SCV and Alfred Health, and from the experiences of the other participating health organisations,” Joyce said.

“Importantly, we have identified that lasting changes requires a hands-on, coordinated approach with strong multidisciplinary collaboration.”

The Analgesic Stewardship Committee’s biggest challenge so far has been guiding long-lasting practice changes in terms opioid and analgesia prescribing across Northern Health, especially with the constant expansion of our services and new staff joining our organisation.

“We have a very knowledgeable and committed team however who are up to the task,” Joyce said,

Looking to the future, the Analgesic Stewardship Committee is keen to build on the learnings provided from the initial analgesic pilot program, and improve analgesic education, governance and safety across Northern Health.

Featured image: Joyce Anthony, Analgesic Stewardship Pharmacist/Team Lead.