Why are processes important in veterinary practice pharmacies?

Having pharmacy SOPs or processes in place in the veterinary practice will benefit the business in a number of ways.

Firstly, Veterinary surgeons have a responsibility to keep up-to-date with medicines. According to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in 2021, there were 85 new veterinary products licensed and 150 changes to SPCs.  It is important that there is a protocol in place to make sure the team is aware of these changes.  How is this information gathered? When is it gathered? Who is responsible for doing this? How is the information disseminated through the team?

Secondly, anyone working in the pharmacy needs to be aware of the health risks and mitigations in place for handling veterinary medicines. You will protect the health of your team and also protect your business from litigation, by having processes in place. Similarly, your team members need to be trained when supplying medicines to clients, failure to do so will cause the practice too fall foul of VMD regulations and run the risk of causing harm to an animal or client.

Another important reason to have processes in place in your pharmacy, is to ensure adequate stock control. Team members need to be aware of stock ordering protocols to ensure maximum efficiency and prevent over-ordering or wastage of medicines – Saving you money. Who is responsible for ordering? What is your current stock requirement? What are the storage requirements? How is stock rotated? How are client orders managed?

Practices stocking controlled drugs are required to have strict protocols in place for ordering, storing, registering and disposal of these products.

Lastly, for practices enrolled in the RCVS Practice Standard Scheme, the Medicines award gives points for practices having a regular process in place to update the team on changes in medicines.

Pharmacy SOPs help to keep order during staff shortages

Right now, the veterinary profession is suffering from an unprecedented staffing crisis. Practice teams are under a great deal of pressure. Never has it been more important to have processes in place to protect your business. These SOPs, need to be shared, understood, agreed to and acknowledged by the team. Otherwise, they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Having processes in place will also make onboarding new staff much quicker and easier. Ensuring new team members are productive, happy and confident much sooner.

How do I go about creating a Pharmacy SOPs for keeping medicines up-to-date in my business?

A number of resources are available to tell you about veterinary medicines and changes to current products. But most vets will not have time to research and consider changes on a regular basis.

In the interests of efficiency, the practice should delegate this responsibility to one individual. Either a veterinary surgeon, a Veterinary Nurse or an SQP.  They should follow a prescribed process.  The process should include –

  • How the information is sourced
  • Who is responsible for doing this
  • How often
  • and how they are to disseminate the information throughout the team.

Where does the information come from?

The VMD has a complete database of all licenced veterinary medicines. This database includes recently updated SPCs. However, SPCs are not the easiest documents to read and the list is long and difficult to navigate.

The NOAH compendium contains datasheets which are condensed versions of SPCs. NOAH publish a list weekly of changes to SPCs.  However, not all pharmaceutical companies are members of NOAH and therefore not all veterinary products will be included in this list.

The Veterinary Record also publish changes to medicines.

But, how do the changes affect you, your business and your patients? Is it easy to break through the technical jargon? A really useful service which we recommend is the Veterinary Prescriber medicines update. This email, which is available to Veterinary Prescriber subscribers, means the hard work is done for you. They focus on the changes which have been made and what they mean to you. Allowing you to assess their relevance to your practice and your patients.  All that you need to do, is to pick out the medicines you stock and so need to be aware of.

Veterinary Prescriber also have useful CPD modules which cut through the sales talk and marketing to help you choose between veterinary products.

Screenshot-2022-02-18-115132 Protect Your Business & Your Team With Simple Pharmacy SOPs
Example of a Medicines update in the Urgent News feature of Training Progress Information collated from Veterinary Prescriber

How do you spread the word?

The next thing you need to do is disseminate the information to the relevant team members. Again this should be done as part of a process. Team members should know when and how this information will be provided by the practice.

Changes can be shared in group emails or practice meetings. But what happens if team members can’t attend the meeting and how do you know the email has been read?

The process and training management system Training-Progress offers an alternative to this.  Medicine updates can be shared with relevant team members via the urgent news feature.  The beauty of which is that you can check up on acknowledgement of the information in a simple report.

Also, where changes have occurred to SOPs or COSHH documents for a medicine these can also be distributed and tracked via the training system.  So, not only does Training-Progress provide the mechanism for distribution of the information but it also provides the proof of training.

If you would like to learn more about how Training-Progress can help you manage your pharmacy protocols please email – info@Training-Progress.com or call 01423 313323.