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Press Release

ASHP Annual Meeting Spotlights Ways Pharmacists Can Revolutionize Practice

Pharmacists from across the nation gathered June 4-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to attend the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Annual Meeting 2000, which featured educational sessions on vital health care issues such as medication-error prevention and technological and scientific advancements. More than 4,000 pharmacists, health care professionals, and pharmaceutical industry exhibitors from around the nation and 12 countries came to Philadelphia for this educational event that includes the annual session of the ASHP House of Delegates, the Society's policymaking body.

Educational Sessions. A packed schedule of sessions allowed practitioners to explore opportunities to enhance patient safety and utilize technological and scientific advances to improve health care delivery. Sessions also delved into important innovations in drug therapy management and creative solutions to pharmacy administration challenges such as drug shortages and the integration of alternative medicines in acute care. 

Medication-Error Prevention: A session by Linda Kohn, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-author of the Institute of Medicine's To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, and ASHP Past-President Philip J. Schneider, M.S., FASHP, drew a standing-room-only audience. The presenters discussed the outcome of the report and its implications for pharmacy practice. "We need to begin to think about systems, not 'good' or 'bad' practitioners," Kohn said. "You can't create a safe environment for patients if you only focus on pharmacy. Error prevention is a multi-layered process." Schneider urged members and other attending pharmacists to take broader leadership roles in medication-error prevention within their health systems. Timely sessions also provided insights into: 

  • The information needs of integrated pharmacy services to ensure patient safety,   
  • Lessons learned via the use of medication-error reporting programs, and   
  • Case studies on successful medication-error reduction processes.

am2000-mtgattendees.jpgTechnological/Scientific Innovations: A special programming track at Annual Meeting 2000 allowed attendees to access the latest information on the use of the Internet in patient education, the evolving role of the health-system pharmacist, and technology's impact on medication errors. Opening General Session keynote speaker James Canton, Ph.D., a futurist and digital entrepreneur, focused on the future implications of technology in health care. A video of his presentation will be available on ASHP's Web site in early July. 

Timely sessions were also offered on: 

  • How to prepare for emerging gene therapies,   
  • The efficacy and optimal use of new drugs,   
  • Developing call centers to centralize collaborative drug therapy decisions,   
  • Implementing information systems to identify and track patient populations, and   
  • The decision-making process for new technology in an integrated delivery network.

Students and Technicians: Pharmacy students and technicians alike enjoyed a diverse array of sessions and posters focused on their unique professional needs. A full day of student programming featured topics such as networking, career planning, communication skills, and residency and internship opportunities. Melissa M. Murer, executive director for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, offered a session that examined how pharmacists and certified pharmacy technicians can work together to improve patient therapies. 

am2000-gadbooth.jpgOther: Sessions also addressed key issues that directly impact the work of health-system pharmacists, including federal and state legislative initiatives and regulatory trends, the integration of alternative medicines into acute care pharmacy, strategies to minimize bacterial resistance in health systems, reimbursement for ambulatory care pharmacy services, preparations for bioterrorism attacks, and creative solutions to the vexing problem of drug shortages. 

House of Delegates. Policy discussions at two sessions of the ASHP House of Delegates focused on a broad range of pressing issues confronting the profession, including reporting of medical errors, compensation for pharmacy services, the shortage of pharmacists, employment of certified pharmacy technicians, credentialing, and Internet pharmacies. Delegates also heard from Society officers on ASHP's progress in developing programs and initiatives to support the profession. (A separate press release outlines more thoroughly the policy decisions of the House.) 

The Society's new officers were installed during the final meeting of the ASHP House of Delegates on June 7. Max L. (Mick) Hunt, Jr., M.S., FASHP, delivered his inaugural address as the new ASHP President on the need to foster leadership among health-system pharmacists. Jill E. Martin, Pharm.D., FASHP, and Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, M.S., FASHP, were also installed as members of the ASHP Board of Directors for 2001-2004. Roland A. Patry, Dr.P.H., FASHP, was elected to a one-year term as chair of the House. 

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term-care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long and distinguished history of medication-error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.