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Reduced timeframe for hospital discharge prescriptions

By Niamh Quinlan - 13th Sep 2022

hospital discharge prescriptions

The 30-day hospital discharge prescription timeline for medical card patients is expected to be reduced, the Medical Independent (MI) can reveal. 

Before the pandemic, patients on the GMS scheme received a seven-day hospital discharge prescription prior to seeing their GP and obtaining their medications under the scheme. Due to demands placed on the healthcare system during the pandemic, a temporary administrative mechanism was introduced to enable pharmacists to provide a 30-day supply. 

This has recently been re-evaluated by relevant regulators, the Department of Health and HSE. A spokesperson for the Department said: “It has been decided that from a patient safety perspective, a return to a limit closer to the pre-pandemic limit is preferable [to] the current 30-day timeframe.” 

Subject to further consultation, the spokesperson said the change is expected to take place in “the near future”. 

Director of Strategies and Operations at the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Mr Jim Curran, told MI that while the IPU cannot comment on the impact on hospital pharmacists, “for community pharmacists, this will result in an increase on the dispensary work volume.” 

He added that shortening the timeframe to seven days would mean that GMS patients would need to visit their community pharmacy twice in one week and their GP at least once. 

“This is cumbersome and time-consuming. Being able to provide one month’s supply on the day of discharge is seamless for the patient and the pharmacy.” 

Chair of the IMO GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley, said returning to the seven-day timeframe would be “an odd decision” and could pose safety risks, as a prescription and discharge summary was not always supplied within the shorter timeframe. 

“[When that happens] within that week, there is great confusion as to what medications they are or aren’t on,” he told this newspaper. 

The Medical Independent.

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