Celebrating Wendy Ewing’s phenomenal contribution to medication safety

Wendy Ewing stands in front of a painting of medication. She is smiling, has blonde straight hair, and is wearing glasses and a black blazer.

When nearly every patient at Monash Health receives a medication, the work we do around maintaining safety in this area is vital. 

That’s why we couldn’t be prouder to acknowledge that our Deputy Director of Pharmacy, Quality, Wendy Ewing, has been recognised for her amazing efforts in this space and awarded the Amy McRae Award for extraordinary contribution to medication safety. 

“I love working in medication safety because it impacts nearly every patient that comes into our health service, so there’s an opportunity to work across a range of areas and reduce the risks associated with medicine use across our broad cohorts of patients,” she said.

Wendy Ewing stands in front of a wall of medication holding her award certificate.

Wendy Ewing received a certificate to commemorate the award.

Wendy was selected as the very first recipient of the new award for her contribution to this space, including chairing VicTAG’s Quality Use of Medicines Group for nine years and sitting on The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia’s Medication Safety Leadership Committee for two terms. 

“Through being a part of these groups, I’ve developed a reputation of being a medication safety pharmacist across the state and have had the opportunity to work on national medication safety and advocacy work,” she said. 

Within our health service, she has also been the driver of several initiatives to improve our medication safety practises – and most notably pioneered the implementation of smart pumps. 

“We built the largest library of medication information, including rate and dosage, to be used for smart infusion pumps that administer medication,” Wendy said. 

“Rather than a nurse or midwife manually selecting a rate or dosage, they select the medicine they’re administering through the library and the pump will only run at a safe rate, so it significantly reduces the risk of errors.

“It’s now the largest library across both Australia and New Zealand and we’ve made intravenous administration to our adult, paediatric and neonatal patients so much safer.” 

Wendy Ewing stands next to a smart pump, motioning to it to a nurse who is facing away from the camera.

The work Wendy and her team did creating a medication library for use with our smart infusion pumps has had a significant impact on medication safety.

The Amy McRae award, introduced this year and awarded at the 2023 Victorian Medicines Roundtable, honours the legacy of pharmacist Amy McRae, who made waves in improving the safety of using neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs). 

She pioneered a comprehensive report that acted as the catalyst for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to mandate the words ‘warning: paralysing agent’ or ‘paralyser’ on every carton, ampoule and vial containing an NMBA in black font with a red background. 

For Wendy, receiving the award was extra special and close to her heart. 

“I knew Amy personally, so it was even more of an honour to receive it,” she said. 

“It is a lovely way to honour her and her work, and she would have been embarrassed and delighted at the same time.”