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'Anatomy of an Error' Sets the Stage for Compelling Opening Session at ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting

Nearly 20,000 pharmacy practitioners, other health care providers, and exhibitors flocked to Las Vegas this week to take advantage of the top-notch programming offered at the 35th Annual ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. The meeting features more than 40 educational sessions and a variety of networking and career advancement opportunities for pharmacists to expand their ability to care for patients.

The Midyear Clinical Meeting’s Opening General Session, "Anatomy of an Error," featured a unique and moving drama production that focused on the wide-ranging effects of a medication error on a pediatric patient, his family, and the health care professionals involved in his care

Opening General Session photoCompelling testimonials from pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and administrators about ways that they have renovated their medication-use systems to reduce error followed the drama presentation. The session’s highlight was an emotional and eye-opening account by health care executive Kevin Roberg, whose young daughter experienced several serious medication errors while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Medication-error prevention continues to be a hot Midyear topic, with standing-room only crowds at sessions on the role of certified pharmacy technicians in error prevention, the pharmacist’s role in improving patient safety in perioperative settings, and the use of new technology and automation to prevent errors. The Society also announced several new patient safety initiatives at the meeting, including:

  • A partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA) that will offer a series of six medication-safety issue briefs in AHA's Hospitals & Health Networks. The first two briefs in the series, which is sponsored by McKesson HBOC, will be "Leadership: Creating a Culture of Safety" and "The Safe Use of Automation."   
  • A collaborative endeavor with the American Psychological Association (APA) to help health-system pharmacists and other pharmacy staff members find the counseling they need after a serious medication error occurs. The APA-run referral hotline (800-964-2000) will assist practitioners in finding a local psychologist who can help them deal with the professional and personal aftermath of an error.

ASHP launched an intensified advocacy effort to help pharmacists in ambulatory settings be compensated for their patient-care services. At a special meeting, leaders of the Society’s affiliated state societies learned how they can educate legislators about the role of pharmacists in enhancing medication use and patient safety. ASHP’s Government Affairs Division also detailed upcoming efforts to secure provider status for pharmacists under the Social Security Act.

State societies will coordinate visits by lawmakers to local pharmacy practice sites, where the legislators will witness the broad range of activities pharmacists undertake to help patients optimize medication use. ASHP will also work with other national pharmacy organizations to lobby for legislative and regulatory changes such as a Medicare outpatient prescription drug benefit and the use of a fair Average Wholesale Price formula to reflect the true costs of drug therapy.

Click here to view the photo gallery from the meeting.