The Reducing Adverse Medication Events in Mental Health Working Party (RAMEMHWP) was established to:

  • provide expert advice and recommendations to the SQPS on the development of strategic directions and practical applications that can reduce adverse medication events in mental health consistent with national mental health initiatives and
  • develop recommendations for the SQPS on the development of State and Territory frameworks for the implementation of the safety and quality agenda in relation to reducing adverse medication events in mental health services.
The Mental Health and Quality Use of Medicines Report and The National Strategy for the Quality Use of Medicine document provided useful guides for RAMEMHWP's deliberations. The former was developed as a result of a workshop coordinated by the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), which brought together stakeholders and experts working 'at the coalface' of mental health and Quality Use of Medicines (QUM). The latter report sets out the approach and principles necessary to achieve QUM in Australia and supports the QUM Strategic Action Plan.

In addition, the RAMEMHWP recognized the need to be consistent with the aims of the sub program Medication Safety as outlined in the Work Plan of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) as the issues in regard to adverse medication events in mental health were, by and large, the same as those issues pertinent to general health.

Furthermore, the RAMEMHWP focused on developing a framework that was practical and achievable, with States and Territories having the responsibility for developing and implementing their individual policies and protocols for medication safety and management adverse medication events. Top of page

In undertaking this work, the RAMEMHWP undertook a literature search, which demonstrated that there has been limited research carried out in the area of reducing adverse medication events. In addition, there is no substantiated evidence base to indicate what type of adverse medication events are more common than others and a small evidence base specific to mental health.

As part of the work undertaken to date, the RAMEMHWP conducted a jurisdictional mapping of activity related to safety and quality in medication usage. The results of the mapping exercise, based on a standard template developed in consultation with a range of people including key stakeholders in Western Australia who are involved in the area of medication safety, indicated that while there is a lot of activity in this area there is a lack of coordination and networked communication across the area nationally and in most jurisdictions. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that there is limited evidence for best practice in this area.

In developing the Framework for Mental Health Services, the RAMEMHWP was concerned about the tendency for strategies to improve medication quality and safety being developed in "silos", which in turn resulted in duplication of activity, disparate approaches to similar problems and implementation of similar, yet uncoordinated, activities in different areas of practice.

Accordingly, the focus of the Framework is on prioritising objectives that:

  • best meet the needs of consumers and carers
  • provide practical solutions that can make a difference
  • identify strategies that are achievable within current levels of resourcing whilst recognising the need for supporting those that will require increased levels of resourcing and
  • differentiate strategies for implementation at the National and State/Territory level.