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5/12/2003
Press Release

Pharmacists, Nurses Meet to Improve Medication Safety in Hospitals

Five national organizations representing nurses and pharmacists who work in hospitals and health systems met recently to examine how these two professions can work together to improve patient safety.  Medical error and patient safety are serious public health concerns that have long been critical issues to both nurses and pharmacists. Both professions are facing continuing workforce shortages.

The summary of this landmark executive session, held in December, is published in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

The objectives of the session were to:

  • Develop a shared vision of ideal medication distribution and administration in hospitals, including the best utilization of nursing and pharmacy workforces, and    
  • Recommend approaches to improve medication use in hospitals with an aim toward ensuring patient safety and therapy effectiveness.

Participants explored opportunities to improve the medication-use process in hospitals in light of the complex system in which medications are prescribed, dispensed, and administered to the patient; as well as the evolving role of both nurses and pharmacists, and the fact that today’s medications are more powerful and complex. 

In the executive session, participants agreed that in an ideal patient care system, the medication-use system, would be:

  • Patient-centered    
  • Collaborative and team-based    
  • Highly reliable    
  • Risk conscious, with continued systems-based improvement

Participants are considering additional executive sessions to involve the greater health care community in tackling this important public health issue.

The executive session was convened by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

The full text of the executive session summary can be viewed at www.ashp.org/public/pubs/ajhpopen/5b-sf-thompson.pdf (PDF).

AACN is the national voice for university and four-year-college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 570 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.

AACP, the national organization representing and supporting all U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy and their faculties, is committed to education and scholarship for improving drug therapy.

ANA is the only full-service professional organization representing the nation's 2.7 million Registered Nurses through its 54 constituent associations. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.

Founded in 1967, AONE, a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association, is a national organization of nearly 4,000 nurses who design, facilitate, and manage care. Its mission is to represent nurse leaders who improve healthcare. AONE members are leaders in collaboration and catalysts for innovation. AONE's vision is "Shaping the future of healthcare through innovative nursing leadership."  The organization provides leadership, professional development, advocacy, and research in order to advance nursing practice and patient care, promote nursing leadership excellence, and shape healthcare public policy. Its website is www.aone.org.

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 professional practice, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs. For more information, visit ASHP’s Web site, www.ashp.org, or www.SafeMedication.com.