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Medication safety

A jovial nurse having conversing with a male patient as they rest in their hospital bed

Did you know that medication harm accounts for 50% of the overall preventable harm in medical care? Read our article to learn about drug resistance and how our patient journey ensures medication safety with the support of our on-site pharmacy service.

What is drug resistance?

Did you know that WHO has declared that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is one of the top ten global public health threats facing humanity?

"Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi." WHO, 2016.

Antimicrobials including antibiotics, antifungals, antiparasitics and antivirals, are medicines which are used to treat infections. Resistance occurs when bacteria and viruses etc evolve over time meaning they don’t respond as effectively to the medicines which makes the infection harder to treat. When administering and prescribing antibiotics, it is important that AMR is always considered so a patient is safe.

Read about our Infection Prevention and Control Team to learn more about how to fight AMR and our commitment to the Antibiotic Guardian scheme.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. As the use of antibiotics increases, the bacteria being treated can change and result in resistance to the medication. This causes challenges as the antibiotics become less effective and it becomes difficult to treat even the most common infections. This also limits the kind of treatment available to patients who have existing medication that may react or interact with the treatment options or have allergies to certain antibiotics.

The pharmacy team at Benenden Hospital ensure that antibiotic prescribing is in line with hospital policy. When patients visit us, their medication history is taken, and any interactions or possible reactions are highlighted to our clinical staff. Our teams carry out quarterly audits to ensure safe prescribing, highlight any potential findings and encourage learning to the other teams involved.

Dangers of medication misuse

Medication misuse is when medication is used in a different way to what is prescribed. Some examples of medication misuse include overdose, under dose, incorrect timing and frequency of administration, and multiple medications being used that can affect drug response and become toxic.

To avoid medication misuse, our pharmacy team counsels patients on medication, and advises on medication management for multiple medicines. Pharmacies in the community as well as our hospital are accessible for the public and patients to come in with any medication queries. This ensures that people can understand the medication they take or purchase over the counter.

Benenden's commitment to medication safety

Sandeep Wildman, our Pharmacy Manager, explains how the Pharmacy ensures medication is safely prescribed.

“Our team focuses on getting the correct medication and dosing to the patient, and providing counsel on how to use the medication safely and effectively.

“Ensuring the safe prescribing and dispensing of medication to patients is a core function of a Pharmacy team. The Pharmacy has a role to ensure patient safety by assessing appropriate opioid and antibiotic use, improving access to medications, ensuring medication adherence, readmission reductions, and medication safety.”

Medication safety throughout Benenden Hospital patient journey

Initial consultation

At your initial consultation at our hospital, you will be asked about any prescription medication you’re currently taking so please do bring a list of these or a copy of your repeat prescription form. You will also be asked if you have any non-prescription medicines you’ve bought from over the counter.

Day of surgery

On the day of your surgery, it’s important that you bring any medication with you such as asthma inhalers, eye drops, creams and ointments, including homeopathic or alternative medicines, in their original packaging. We will advise you whether it’s safe to use/take them during your stay. If you’re an inpatient and you know you’ll be staying for one or two nights, you should make sure that you have enough of these medicines for not only your stay but for when you’re discharged and at home recovering too.


Our on-site Pharmacy team will work with our ward staff to provide medication before and during your treatment. On your discharge, they’ll arrange any medication you need, explaining what it’s to treat and how to take it.

Disposing of old or unused medication

As part of medication safety, you shouldn’t take medication after its printed expiry date. When disposing of expired or unwanted medicines, do not throw them in a bin or flush them down the toilet. Did you know you can take them to a pharmacy where they can be disposed of safely?

What is the Yellow Card reporting site?

This Medication Safety Week (6-10 November) aims to promote the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Yellow Card reporting scheme. This empowers patients and healthcare workers to use it as not just a tool for reporting adverse effects to medicines, but also any suspected problems with medical devices and other healthcare products.

"I invite my Benenden Hospital colleagues to use this opportunity to spread this not only amongst other staff, but to our patients too," says our Pharmacy Manager, Chinedu Nwanede.

If you wish to report a medicine, vaccine or device, please visit the Yellow Card reporting site.

Access our on-site Pharmacy service

Our hospital Pharmacy service is run by a friendly team of qualified Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy Assistants who provide a comprehensive Pharmacy service to our patients, Consultants and staff. It’s open Monday to Friday (except bank holidays) from 9am to 5pm.

Whether you’re an outpatient whose Consultant or GP has prescribed medication for you or you require over-the-counter medicines before you journey home, our on-site Pharmacy will provide information and advice about your medication.

It’s easy to find out about treatments and medicines, you can complete our online enquiry form or call us on 01580 363 158.

Published on 06 November 2023