Medication without harm: why this is a topic everyone in western Sydney needs to be across

Each person living in western Sydney will, at some point in their life, take medications to prevent or treat illness, so it’s important for everyone to be aware that medications can cause serious harm if incorrectly stored, prescribed, dispensed, administered or if monitored insufficiently.

World Patient Safety Day is held each year on 17 September and raises awareness around medication safety.

This year at Westmead Hospital, the pharmacy department and volunteers from WentWest (the Western Sydney Primary Health Network), delivered various promotional activities to ensure that medication safety was front-of-mind for nurses, pharmacists, medical officers, patients and visitors.

In particular, the team endeavoured to encourage a dialogue around the key focus areas ‘transitions of care’ and ‘inappropriate polypharmacy’ and promote associated primary care programs and other initiatives available to patients in these areas.

They also prepared a quiz in partnership with the patient safety team around high-risk medicines and encouraged all team members to engage with their ward pharmacist who are on-hand to provide clinical support to nurses.

The whole day was very well received, and we thoroughly enjoyed our discussions with visitors and handing out helpful ‘medicine lists’ and pens,” said Westmead Hospital clinical pharmacist Rozanna Alameddine.

“We heard comments such as “medication safety is so important” and “I wish we had these stands more regularly; this information is so helpful” which was great to hear.

“This knowledge gives patients the confidence to speak up when something doesn’t feel right or if they have developed unwanted side effects.”

The pharmacy team also collaborated with Western Sydney Local Health District’s Centre for Population Health team to promote the seven-week falls prevention program, ‘Stepping On’.

“Medications can contribute significantly to falls risk in elderly patients and it is vital that we empower patients to reduce medication related harm by knowing what medications they take, and why they are necessary,” said Rozanna.

Gauri Miszka, a clinical pharmacist from the Centre for Population Health’s Hospital in the Home service, is passionate about preventing medication-related falls and said it’s important for people to be aware that “any medication that reduces blood pressure, slows the heart, or acts on the brain, can cause falls”.

“I’d encourage older adults to talk with their local doctor or pharmacist about their medications, and to check if they may need a safer, alternative medication due to possible risk of falls,” said Garui.

People aged 65 and over can find out about ways to prevent falls by joining the free Stepping On program that includes talks from an expert guest speaker and gentle balance and strength exercises.

Programs run across western Sydney with two programs in Telopea and Epping starting mid-October 2022.

Please contact the Centre for Population Health on (02) 9840 3603 and ask for Elise Harding, or email: to find out more!