Scotland’s national audit body has raised concerns about the scope and quality of the country’s Emergency Care Summary.

In its latest report on medicines management, Audit Scotland says that nine out of ten health boards have now implemented the ECR in Accident and Emergency departments.

The ECR contains information from GP records and is intended to help staff manage patients when they do not have access to their full medication records.

However, Audit Scotland says nine health boards have reported problems with the records. A significant number of staff in seven boards have complained that the records are inaccurate or out of date.

And a significant number in five boards have complained they do not contain information about over the counter medicines or medicines prescribed by staff other than GPs. However, the report also says staff are alerted to the limitations of the system and the data in it.

Audit Scotland last examined medicines management in 2005. Since then, it says the management of medicines in hospitals has improved. However, it says the NHS in Scotland still needs better information to improve both cost-effective prescribing and safety.

Its report, Managing the Use of Medicines in Hospitals: a follow up review, urges the Scottish Government to encourage health boards to take up a national Hospital Electronic Prescribing Medicines Administration system as soon as one is available.

An optional HEPMA module is being procured alongside a new patient management system for the NHS in Scotland, a contract for which should be signed this summer.

“Given the potential benefits of a national system, the Scottish Government should ensure that all boards have this in place as soon as possible,” the report says.

On safety, the report says that the Scottish Government has set up a nationwide patient safety system, and that boards have their own incident reporting systems in place. These include medication incidents.

However, the report says there is no national system in place that would “collate and share this information to help reduce the risk of future incidents.”

The Audit Scotland report says more progress has been made on a national electronic prescribing system. It says a number of building blocks have been put in place, including a single dictionary of drugs and devices and a national hospital medicines database.

The database should be rolled out by 2010, and will provide basic information and standard reports on the drugs used in hospitals. This should enable boards and hospitals to compare their performance.

Link: Audit Scotland