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Medicines in pregnancy and patient safety

NPA Essential

Medicines in pregnancy and patient safety

The NPA has developed a suite of patient safety resources, intended to raise the awareness of the risks of valproate and other medicines used during pregnancy amongst the pharmacy team and patients – the new resources include:

Valproate dispensing guidance and checklist

Children exposed to valproate during pregnancy have:

  • Up to a 40 per cent increased risk of a developmental disability
  • A 10 per cent risk of birth defects

Valproate dispensing checklist:

Have other therapies been used to treat the patient’s condition?

  1. Valproate should only be used in females (children, adolescents, pregnant and those of childbearing potential) if other treatments are ineffective or not tolerated
  2. Has the patient been informed of the risks associated with valproate use during pregnancy?
  3. Does the patient understand the risks associated with valproate use during pregnancy?
  4. Has the patient received a valproate patient card? If not, provide one
  5. Has the patient read the information, signed and dated the valproate patient card?
  6. Is the female using effective contraception?
  7. Remind the patient not to stop treatment abruptly and to seek advice when planning a pregnancy or if the female becomes pregnant.

Reducing harm from medicines in pregnancy

A short fact sheet is available for pharmacy teams and includes a list of medicines which carry risk when handled/used in pregnancy. It explains that pharmacy teams should be able to:

  1. Identify medicines which can cause harm in pregnancy – for example, using alerts on the PMR system 
  2. Ensure female patients/carers know about the risks associated with the medicines they are taking/handling 
  3. Ensure female patients/carers know how to take or use medicines safely and handle the medicines with care.

Medicines in pregnancy poster

A poster to be displayed to patients designed to encourage patients to ask the pharmacist before taking any medicines during pregnancy or if they are planning to conceive.

For more information visit the NPA website.

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