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Press Release

ASHP, Foundation Partner on 'Medication Safety Officer' Initiative

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) today announced a new initiative to help improve medication safety in hospitals and health systems. ASHP’s Center on Patient Safety and the ASHP Research and Education Foundation are collaborating on an effort to expand the use of a new health care professional category called "Medication Safety Officer." This key member of the health care team would coordinate all activities related to patient safety and quality improvement in the medication-use process. 

"We hope to demonstrate that this type of pharmacy professional can significantly improve safety and quality in health systems," said Kasey K. Thompson, Pharm.D., director of ASHP’s Center on Patient Safety. "While there are already some individuals functioning in this capacity in hospitals and health systems, a proven position description that encompasses the fundamental roles and responsibilities of a Medication Safety Officer is needed." 

In the first phase of the project, ASHP will collaborate with pharmacy practitioners to develop a position description, including conducting systematic task and learning analyses of health care professionals across the country who currently fulfill some of the roles and responsibilities that would be held by a Medication Safety Officer. An ideal position description will then be generated using expertise from human factors and logistics. 

ASHP will also perform research testing the effectiveness of persons in such positions. Conducted by an interdisciplinary team, the research will document the effectiveness of medication safety officers in selected sites. Additionally, the initiative will develop educational materials and training programs for Medication Safety Officers, based on the task and learning analyses.

"This project will serve as an important step toward helping hospitals and health systems design and maintain fail-safe medication-use systems," said Stephen J. Allen, M.S., FASHP, executive vice president of the ASHP Research and Education Foundation. "We’re very excited to be focusing our patient safety efforts on this step in improving patient safety in our nation’s health care system."

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.

The mission of the ASHP Research and Education Foundation is to improve the health and well being of patients in hospitals and health-systems through appropriate, safe and effective medication use. The Foundation provides leadership and conducts education and research activities that foster the coordination of interdisciplinary medication management leading to optimal patient outcomes. Emphasis is given to programs that will have a major impact on advancing pharmacy practice in hospitals and health systems, thereby improving public health.