I believe strongly in the importance of the pharmacist collaborating with the medical team and the impact they have on improving patient safety. Having a pharmacist on the patient care team can drastically reduce drug errors while the patient is in the hospital. Maybe more importantly is the work that pharmacists can do to help patients during transition of care from the hospital or other care settings to home. This service, called Medication Reconciliation, is an important part of both the intake and discharge of patients from a care setting.
A recent article, “Drug Regimens a Key Focus for Better Fall Prevention” from Pharmacy Practice News shows pharmacists can dramatically reduce fall prevention – improving patient safety and reducing cost and risk for the health system.
According to the article based on an ASHP presentation by Robert Wahler, Jr., PharmD, “… fall prevention not only can benefit patients but also the bottom line. One hospital-based analysis that looked at its own medication-related fall intervention across a two-year span found that the rate of falls decreased by 30% after implementation of preventive measures. The projected savings from fewer injuries was $217,000 annually, according to the findings (Hosp Pharm 2009;44:1095-1102).”
And that’s just one hospital – at a national level the numbers are staggering!
“Medication-related fall risk factors, such as dizziness, that are associated with benzodiazepines, antidepressants and other drugs contribute to the numerous falls that occur annually in U.S. hospitals, harming between 700,000 and 1 million patients, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).”
It’s amazing to see the impact pharmacists have on the safety of patients and reduction of medication issues when they collaborate with the medical team. And it is key to be sure this service is available to patients, “… the regimens of the 60 adults, aged 49 to 92 years, were evaluated at the community health clinics by pharmacy students, they were found to be averaging 6.3 prescriptions and 3.7 over-the-counter medications. On average, each patient was taking four medications associated with a heightened likelihood of falls.”
Education for patients as they leave the hospital or care setting is very important. The article quotes Nathan Pinner, PharmD, “Too often, older patients end up in the hospital on combinations of drugs that should have been reevaluated years ago, Dr. Pinner said. “Everybody has good intentions. You give a medication because you want to help somebody with a problem.” But there needs to be more follow-up regarding if the medication is still working and whether any side effects have developed, particularly with advancing age. “I don’t think we are always looking to stop medications as much as people are looking to start medications.”
Do you have a pharmacist counsel your patients on discharge? Does your hospital encourage pharmacists to collaborate with your medical team to ensure medication regimes are appropriate for not only during the hospital stay but for their next care transition?