11/6/2002

Pharmacists on Medical Rounds Significantly Reduce Medication Errors

Including a clinical pharmacist on daily patient rounds reduced medication errors by 51 percent, according to a study appearing in the November 1, 2002 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP).  The article, “Pharmacist participation in medical rounds reduces medication errors,” also found that pharmacists’ interventions decreased the duration of errors. 

In the study, a clinical pharmacist participated in daily rounds on one of the 19 medical services in an academic medical center for one month.  The pharmacist investigated allergy information, monitored trends in laboratory test values, and reviewed medication orders for appropriate medication selection and dose.  The pharmacist also reviewed drug indications, patient age, weight, and organ function, and the medication administration record. 

At the same time, a team of three reviewers examined all patients’ medical charts for errors, including variances in medication selection, dosing, and monitoring from recommendations published in the institution’s clinical staff manual.  Reviewers classified the errors as prescribing, administration, pharmacy or discharge errors.  Overall, 46 errors occurred in the intervention group, while 94 errors occurred in the control group.

When a pharmacist participated in the daily medical rounds, medication errors were reduced by 51 percent.  The number of patients without a medication error during their hospital stay increased to 40 percent.  The interventions also impacted the duration of time an error continued after it occurred.  An error persisted less than one day and with less than one dose of medication in the study group, compared with 2.4 days and two doses of medication for patients in the control group.  To read the article, go to http://www.ashp.com/public/pubs/ajhp/current/restrict.cfm?pdf=fdp.isracS-scm-a11om.

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 www.ashp.org or www.safemedication.com.


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