Pharmacists Convene Second Executive Session on Emergency Preparedness
Emergency planners and health care experts gathered in Bethesda, Maryland, in early March for the second executive session on Emergency Preparedness and the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain, held by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). More than 40 participants representing public and private sectors met to identify gaps in emergency preparedness and suggest solutions. The summary of the Executive Session is available online at www.ashp.org.
Participants identified a number of significant weaknesses in emergency preparedness involving medications, including the:
- Negative impact of national drug shortages on emergency planning and patient care,
- Lack of information-sharing about drug products held in storage by both public and private organizations,
- Emergency planners and first responders lack of expertise in the complexity of medication use,
- Greater need for pharmacists to be involved in disaster-response planning and patient care, and
- Need for better communication among all participants in emergency planning, including organizations, health care professionals, and the public and private sectors.
"These executive sessions have brought to light key weaknesses in our nations crisis planning that must be addressed to ensure Americans receive the proper life-saving medications when needed," said Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., ASHP executive vice president and chief executive officer. "Its particularly important that hospitals, which are likely to be on the front line of any national or local disaster, are well-informed and involved in community emergency plans."
Participants also noted the need for an electronic network that could provide emergency personnel with rapid information on the availability of drugs needed for a mass emergency, including current quantities, estimated delivery times, and any special instructions governing their use.
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.