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ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting Focuses on Pharmacists' Role in Drug Safety

ASHP’s advocacy in medication-error prevention and the release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on medical errors, “To Err is Human,” provided an exciting backdrop for the Society's 34th Annual Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibits last month in Orlando, Fla. The meeting, which is the largest annual gathering of pharmacists in the world, provided a forum for discussions about efforts to combat medication errors. It also featured outstanding educational sessions to help pharmacists who practice in health systems gain the skills necessary to protect the well-being of their patients.

Medication-Errors Report Initiates Dialogue 
Meeting attendees displayed great interest in the IOM report, which cited the ASHP guidelines on medication-error prevention and several articles from AJHP, the Society’s journal. Educational sessions on medication-error prevention, such as “Ensuring the Success of Pharmacists on Patient Care Rounds” and “Creating a Safe Environment: Ways to Minimize the Opportunities for Error,” played to standing-room only crowds and highlighted ways that pharmacists can take an active role in reducing errors. Participants at an open hearing on reengineering the medication-use system gave feedback on a new research project, sponsored by the ASHP Research and Education Foundation that will develop, implement, and test a fail-safe medication-use system. 

Jane E. Henney, M.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and the speaker at the meeting’s Opening General Session, noted that minimizing medication errors is a priority for the agency. She called on pharmacists to take an active role in promoting drug safety. “You as pharmacists…must ensure that patients receive the correct medication and, at the same time, receive the correct information about how to take a product and what the potential risks of doing so may be,” she said. 

goodwin.jpgHenney commented on another hot topic during her address, the growth of the Internet as a delivery mechanism for medications and other medical products. Noting that electronic commerce poses a regulatory challenge for the agency, Commissioner Henney previewed the Clinton administration’s efforts to strengthen protections for patients who use online pharmacies. 

New Member Services Initiative Unveiled 
Medication errors may have been the hot topic at the meeting, but the premiere of “ASHP 2000,” a new initiative to personalize the Society’s member services around 10 practice interest areas, generated its own “buzz.” The new logo for ASHP 2000 was featured prominently throughout the convention center and ASHP President Bruce E. Scott, M.S., FASHP, previewed a new look for the Society’s member newsletter and Web site during the Opening General Session. These steps reflect the Society's commitment to disseminate positive messages about health-system pharmacy and provide the kinds of continuing education, drug information resources, and advocacy that members need in order to practice effectively in all components of integrated health systems. 

lorms.jpg“ASHP 2000 is a new way of thinking, a new way of being,” said Scott. “Change is coming for health care in this new time, and we need to be poised to accept and move with those changes. Remember that ASHP is right beside you as you head out into that ‘new frontier.’ ” 

The Society’s focus on members was also reflected in the meeting’s theme center in the exhibit hall. A photo tower took center stage, spotlighting the ways ASHP members serve the association through their work on councils and committees. Representatives from the ASHP Office of Member and Affiliate Relations and members of the executive committees for the ASHP sections of home care practitioners and clinical specialists and the Pharmacy Student Forum greeted meeting attendees and shared information about the Society's member services. 

Scott and ASHP Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., listened to members’ concerns during the Midyear's first open forum. Attendees commented on current issues facing the organization, including patient safety, credentialing, and assisting state affiliates with the state-level legislative aspects of the IOM report. 

students.jpgEducational Sessions Cover Broad Topics, Prepare Pharmacists for Practice Challenges 
Educational sessions were the centerpiece of the meeting, with more than 50 sessions geared toward strengthening pharmacists' patient care skills. For the first time, the meeting's educational offerings were grouped into specific learning tracks. Sessions in the tracks helped attendees understand crucial issues in cutting-edge topics in pharmacy and health care: alternative therapies, improving practice at your site, incorporating science into practice, and the expanding roles of pharmacists. Other educational programs dealt with antimicrobial resistance, documenting clinical interventions, increasing home infusion services, preventing stroke, and enhancing presentation skills. Attendees were treated to a variety of presentation formats ranging from posters to debates and sessions led by expert panelists. The meeting also featured special programming targeted to the nearly 2,500 students in attendance. 

virtual.jpgWith more than 16,000 practitioners, other health providers, and exhibitors at the meeting, the Midyear Clinical Meeting was also a prime opportunity for attendees to interact with colleagues. Networking forums, including sessions targeted at pharmacy directors, technicians, home care practitioners, and pharmacists from small and rural hospitals, were extremely popular. Participants were able to peruse more than 1,300 booths in the exhibit hall for the latest patient care products and services. ASHP’s on-site Personnel Placement Service facilitated job searching for a record 1,576 applicants who reviewed job listings and arranged for interviews for nearly 750 positions. The “Bring Your Administrator” program attracted more than 160 health care administrators who accompanied their pharmacy staff to learn about pharmacists' evolving roles in patient care. 

—ASHP News & Views, February 2000