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Press Release

Michael R. Cohen Named 2002 Whitney Award Winner

Michael R. Cohen, R.Ph., M.S., Sc.D., FASHP, founder and president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), has been named the recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ (ASHP) 2002 Harvey A .K. Whitney Lecture Award. He will receive health-system pharmacy’s highest award on June 4 during ASHP’s Summer Meeting 2002 in Baltimore.

Throughout most of his 32-year career, Cohen has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to patient safety. He held pharmacy management positions for more than 20 years in several Philadelphia-area hospitals, including Temple University Hospital. During his tenure as an assistant director and director of pharmacy at several Philadelphia-area hospitals, Cohen implemented progressive pharmacy services that focused on patient safety in medication administration and delivery.

In 1993, Cohen co-founded ISMP, a nonprofit organization that educates practitioners, healthcare administrators, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry on ways to reduce and prevent medication errors. ISMP also publishes a monthly newsletter called ISMP Medication Safety Alert! and conducts a fellowship program in safe medication management. The organization has two international affiliates in Canada and Spain.

Cohen is also co-founder of the national Medication Error Reporting Program (now conducted by the U.S. Pharmacopeia) to gather information on the types of errors occurring in hospitals. He has helped implement similar error-reporting programs in several countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Spain.

"We applaud Michael for his tireless efforts to protect patients from harm caused by medication errors," said Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., executive vice president and chief executive officer of ASHP. "From highlighting the need for standardized bar coding on drug products to advocating for changes in look-alike packaging and soundalike drug names, Michael is constantly on the lookout for implementable, positive solutions. The Whitney Award is a fitting recognition of his groundbreaking work to improve medication safety."

With more than 100 publications to his credit, Cohen has made a significant contribution to pharmaceutical literature. He is assistant editor of Hospital Pharmacy and contributes monthly columns to that journal as well as to Nursing 2000, Pharmacy Today, and Newsline. He is the author of three books, Medication Errors, Medication Errors: Causes and Prevention, and 200 Medication Errors and How to Avoid Them. Cohen serves as the National Chair of the Accelerated Learning Workshops on Adverse Drug Events for VHA, Inc., and was the chair of the United States Pharmacopeia’s Medication Errors Advisory Panel.

Cohen’s work has garnered awards from several organizations, including ASHP, the Delaware Valley Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Pennsylvania Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the ASHP Research and Education Foundation. He was ranked one of the most influential pharmacists in the United States for three consecutive years by American Druggist and was named as the publication’s "Pharmacist of the Year" in 1999.

ASHP has administered the Harvey A. K. Whitney Lecture Award, established in 1950 by the Southeastern Michigan Society of Hospital Pharmacists, since 1963. Harvey A. K. Whitney, ASHP’s first president, was an editor, author, educator, practitioner, and leader in hospital pharmacy. Nominations for the award are made by past recipients and ASHP members. The winner is selected by a majority vote of past honorees.

ASHP is the 31,000-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.