Home' Australian Pharmacist : April 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- April #04
Not many people can say their mother-
in-law had a positive hand in their
career, but for Danielle Stowasser, life
could have been very different were
it not for some fortuitous words of
'After working as a pharmacist for a
few years, I considered going back
to study medicine, but I remembered
something my mother-in-law always
said, which was -- you should invest
in your profession and be the best
at what you do. At that point I could
have become another doctor in a
pool of many, or I could do my PhD
in pharmacy, which wasn't very
common back then, and make a
solid contribution to the profession,
Since making the decision to stick
with pharmacy, Danielle has not
looked back. Her commitment to
both the profession and to improving
how people use medicines has
led to a unique career, which was
formally acknowledged last year by
the PSA Queensland Branch when
she was awarded the prestigious
Bowl of Hygeia.
Katie Butt is a former editor of Retail
Pharmacy and until recently was the Media
Advisor at NPS.
In granting the award, QLD PSA's
Branch Director Michelle Rosenthal
said Danielle's contribution to
pharmacy has been instrumental in
the development and implementation
of safe medicine practices. She
made particular note of how Danielle
has championed the valuable role
pharmacists can play in the clinical
team to prevent misadventure as a
result of medicine use.
'Quality use of medicines is what
' Danielle says. 'Medicine
use is integral in people's lives and
although it's such a fundamental thing,
it can have huge consequences.
'I would love to see medicines use
become part of everyone's thinking
and incorporated into all levels of
society. It should be in the education
system so people can get these
messages from a young age. It should
also be incorporated into family and
community services policy, as when
all else fails in someone's life it's the
health system that provides a point
of intervention. Taking a broader
approach to promoting medicines use
would lead to fewer problems and
pressures in the health system itself.
After starting out as a hospital
pharmacist, Danielle quickly realised
that many barriers to quality use
of medicines stem from disjointed
systems in hospitals, IT and policy,
rather than individuals' errors.
'Working with patients on the wards
at the hospital, I realised I could help
directly by talking to people about
their medicines use and management.
When people came in for major
surgery, like hip replacements, there
was even more I could assist with --
like suggesting ways to manage their
medicines during their recovery and
talking to their carers.
In 1995 Danielle was given an
opportunity to do some research
funded by Queensland Health into
continuity of care between hospital
and community transfers. This became
the topic of her PhD and led to her
developing software to assist with
pre-admissions to surgical wards and
discharging patients out of hospital care.
This system is now in more than 100
hospitals in Queensland.
'Wherever I see a problem or inefficient
process I think, how can it be improved?
'Continuity of care is the biggest barrier
to achieving quality use of medicines,
and the current systems in place do
not support this at all. Primary and
secondary health services are funded
differently, and there will always be a
desire to move patients between care
for different reasons.
Danielle's research found if a discharge
nurse or doctor left one medicine off
a patient's discharge summary they
were about three times more likely to
be readmitted to hospital having had an
adverse medicines event.
'I am truly fascinated about why these
problems exist, when we have the
technology and well-educated staff.
I think it proves that we still aren't
putting patients at the centre of
their own care, and for some health
professionals this will require a real
mind shift. We need to think about what
information the patient needs rather
than what we need to do our job. By
empowering the patient there will be
a natural flow to improved individual
After being awarded her PhD, Danielle
was seconded from the Princess
Alexandra hospital to establish and lead
Queensland Health's Quality Use of
Medicines program. This led to several
positions in the Department over the
next 10 years, all focused on quality use
of medicines and safety.
'I have been extremely lucky to have
had some very supportive bosses who
enabled me to take an idea and develop
it. From my own positive experiences
with exceptional managers I've also
become passionate about developing
staff, investing in the next generation.
By Katie Butt
Links Archive March 2011 May 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page