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Press Release

ASHP Extends Helping Hand to Pharmacy Practitioners Involved in Medication Errors

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) have embarked on a collaborative endeavor to help pharmacists and other pharmacy staff get the counseling they need after a serious medication error occurs.

     The new program, one of first initiatives undertaken by the Society's new Center on Patient Safety, will help practitioners deal with the emotional repercussions that often result from a medication error that causes significant patient harm or death.  An APA-run referral service, 1-800-964-2000, will transfer callers to their state's psychological association to receive information about locating a local psychologist who can help them cope with the myriad of challenges they may face, including job loss or professional sanctions, coping with guilt, and inability to talk about the event with family, friends and co-workers.

     "The period following a serious medication error is very unsettling and can be particularly traumatic for the practitioners closely tied to the incident," said ASHP Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D.  "Although we know that systems problems are the root cause of most major adverse events, the dedicated practitioners involved are sometimes treated as scapegoats and often face extremely hostile environments.  This service will provide a safe haven to help them put the error in perspective and move forward."

     APA's 800 number is part of its "Talk to Someone Who Can Help" public education campaign designed, in part, to enhance access to psychological services for anyone who decides they could benefit from them.  "Our research found that more than two-thirds of the public wished they knew more about when and where to get psychological services," said Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director for professional practice at APA.  "We are most pleased to be a part of ASHP's targeted efforts to assist pharmacists in accessing the help they may need."

     To assist psychologists in better understanding the systems causes of most serious errors, ASHP will be working with APA to provide education and literature to APA members.

     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 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.