Pharmacists Highlight Vital Role in Improving Patient Safety, Lowering Costs
Pharmacists who work in hospitals and health systems across the nation will use the occasion of National Pharmacy Week, October 19-25, 2003, to underscore the many new and vital roles they now play in patient care. The evolution has been especially dramatic in recent years as pharmacists have moved beyond compounding and dispensing medications to become vital members of multidisciplinary patient-care teams.
Many consumers are not aware that pharmacists play a critical role in preventing medication errors, advising prescribers on the best drug choices, and working directly with patients to ensure they understand how to use their medications safely and effectively, said Daniel M. Ashby, M.S., FASHP, president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). National Pharmacy Week is a great way to educate the public about how pharmacists can help them get the most benefit from their medicine.
An example of the expanding role of the pharmacist can be found in hospitals that are employing pharmacists in their Emergency Departments (EDs). Full-time ED pharmacists offer valuable benefits to patients and hospitals, including acting as an important drug information resource for patients, nurses, and physicians; and decreasing the number of medication errors that occur in the ED, resulting in enhanced patient safety and reduced hospital costs.
Pharmacists in emergency departments:
Screen patient orders for allergies, drug interactions, intended uses, and proper dosages,
Oversee dispensing, preparing and stocking of medications,
Respond to trauma alerts and cardiac arrests as resuscitation-team members, and
Educate nurses, physicians, and patients about the proper use of medications.
Hospital and health-system pharmacists have been able to take on enhanced patient-care roles because of a number of factors, including the deployment of highly trained, certified technicians and new technologies like robotics that dispense medications. As technology evolvessuch as the addition of machine-readable codes to medication labelspatients will have greater opportunities to have a pharmacist involved in their care.
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ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, ambulatory care clinics, 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 www.ashp.org or www.safemedication.com.