Evaluation of a pharmacist-led actionable audit and feedback intervention for improving medication safety in UK primary care: An interrupted time series analysis

PLoS Med. 2020 Oct 13;17(10):e1003286. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003286. eCollection 2020 Oct.


Background: We evaluated the impact of the pharmacist-led Safety Medication dASHboard (SMASH) intervention on medication safety in primary care.

Methods and findings: SMASH comprised (1) training of clinical pharmacists to deliver the intervention; (2) a web-based dashboard providing actionable, patient-level feedback; and (3) pharmacists reviewing individual at-risk patients, and initiating remedial actions or advising general practitioners on doing so. It was implemented in 43 general practices covering a population of 235,595 people in Salford (Greater Manchester), UK. All practices started receiving the intervention between 18 April 2016 and 26 September 2017. We used an interrupted time series analysis of rates (prevalence) of potentially hazardous prescribing and inadequate blood-test monitoring, comparing observed rates post-intervention to extrapolations from a 24-month pre-intervention trend. The number of people registered to participating practices and having 1 or more risk factors for being exposed to hazardous prescribing or inadequate blood-test monitoring at the start of the intervention was 47,413 (males: 23,073 [48.7%]; mean age: 60 years [standard deviation: 21]). At baseline, 95% of practices had rates of potentially hazardous prescribing (composite of 10 indicators) between 0.88% and 6.19%. The prevalence of potentially hazardous prescribing reduced by 27.9% (95% CI 20.3% to 36.8%, p < 0.001) at 24 weeks and by 40.7% (95% CI 29.1% to 54.2%, p < 0.001) at 12 months after introduction of SMASH. The rate of inadequate blood-test monitoring (composite of 2 indicators) reduced by 22.0% (95% CI 0.2% to 50.7%, p = 0.046) at 24 weeks; the change at 12 months (23.5%) was no longer significant (95% CI -4.5% to 61.6%, p = 0.127). After 12 months, 95% of practices had rates of potentially hazardous prescribing between 0.74% and 3.02%. Study limitations include the fact that practices were not randomised, and therefore unmeasured confounding may have influenced our findings.

Conclusions: The SMASH intervention was associated with reduced rates of potentially hazardous prescribing and inadequate blood-test monitoring in general practices. This reduction was sustained over 12 months after the start of the intervention for prescribing but not for monitoring of medication. There was a marked reduction in the variation in rates of hazardous prescribing between practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Pharmacy Services / trends*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • General Practice / methods
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis / methods
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacists
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom