Medications are powerful tools that can treat or prevent disease if used correctly. In case misused, they can cause potentially significant harm to people who take them. The adverse effects can occur from any medicine. There is needed to look out for the potential risks against the desired benefit of each medicine to minimize the chances of harming the patient.
As other essential members of the health care team, pharmacists also work collaboratively in all types of patient care settings ranging from hospitals to community pharmacies and other care facilities. Pharmacists take specific actions across these settings to contribute to enhancing patient safety.
In the USA, a pharmacist needs to complete six to eight years of education, including training about the medications used to treat and prevent the diseases. In addition, pharmacist training and education include:
- Assessing the patient’s health status.
- Managing diseases.
- Providing counseling and education, including the suitable usage of health care technologies.
These studies prevent drug interactions, medication errors and other harmful medicine events from reaching the patients.
New Prominence of Pharmacists’ Role
Medication errors along with drug interactions causing adverse effects are highly persuasive across all the settings. Medication error terms include a broad spectrum of events such as a patient receiving the incorrect prescription, like receipt of correct drug with wrong dosage or the wrong medicine. It also includes overprescribing or inappropriate prescription of opioids, mistakes in delivery or medication preparation, and harmful drug interactions. However, an ADE or adverse drug event is not always the outcome of medication error. Instead, it can be a cause of preventable adverse drug events. Further, preventable ADEs are the results of medication error reaching the patient and may cause them harm.
To make sure the safe prescription and dispensation of medicines to the patient is the primary function of a pharmacist. They must ensure that patients get the correct medication along with the right amount of dosage. Above all, pharmacists need to offer proper guidance to the patients to use the medications effectively and safely.
With expertise and focus on medication, pharmacists have an excellent opportunity to expand their role as patient safety providers and leaders working with the patients to improve health care outcomes and prevent medication errors. Earlier, pharmacists were perceived as dispensing medications behind the glass. However, with changing scenarios, they are seen as essential partners in the multi-disciplinary health care team to address complex patient needs. Today, pharmacists have assumed greater responsibility and role in pressing patient safety issues, including medication safety, readmission reductions, medication adherence and access to all the medicines.
Contribution of Pharmacists to Improved Patient Safety
Pharmacists put their best skills and ability to ensure optimal outcomes for the patients. The optimal outcomes include the use of medications safely for the desired benefit to the health of the patients.
Here are the actions were taken by pharmacists on a routine basis:
Ensuring Medication Access
When it comes to medications, health care costs can prevent the patients from accomplishing their treatment goals. As a result, they may choose to miss the medication dose or stop taking it thoroughly to avoid high costs. Medicines are essential in disease management. So, if the patient doesn’t take them, it may result in the patient returning to the hospital, which can incur extra costs for the health care system and the patient.
However, pharmacists can help the patients to address their medication expenses with their knowledge and the resources they have. For instance, pharmacists can directly work with the insurance company of the patient to solve any issues. Besides, pharmacists can help the patients enroll in patient assistance programs that manufacturers run to eliminate or reduce the cost of some medicines.
Supplying Medication Information
Being the medication experts, pharmacists are the most accessible members of the health care providers. They know to offer medication information regarding any medicines ranging from over-the-counter drugs to the most complex cancer-treating ones. In addition, pharmacists offer medication information to the patients and caregivers and other health care team members.
The patient or their caregiver must know everything about the medication they have to avoid any medication errors. It empowers people to use the medicines safely and attain the maximum benefit from their use.
Evaluating Medication Suitability
Pharmacists must ensure the correct dose of the proper medication to reach the right patient by the correct route and at the right time. However, several factors can affect these, such as patient weight, liver and kidney function, age, allergies to medicines, and ethnicity. Therefore, pharmacists assure to evaluate each medication to make sure that particular medicine is the most appropriate, safest and effective for the patient. In addition, they evaluate the patient’s entire medication list to look for any therapy duplication, drug interactions, and therapy completeness. Pharmacists also take extra steps via a formalized process to ensure patient safety in the people using medications that are considered risky, like insulin, blood thinners, or chemotherapy.
Medication Management Services
With their knowledge and expertise, pharmacists help manage the patients’ medications and the problems related to them. It includes everything from recognizing the adverse effect causing the medicine to review the drug list and making requisite adjustments.
Pharmacists work to simplify the patient’s medication regimen, making it easier so that they can take their medicines correctly. If they find out the patient is not reaching the treatment goals, they recommend changing the medicine or its dose along with the addition of the same. Thus, they help in the optimization of the therapy.
Improving Medication Adherence
The extent to which the patients take their prescribed medicine is referred to the medication adherence. If the patients are not following the routine of taking medicines as prescribed, it can result in causing harm to them and may lead to expensive hospitalization. The most common reason behind the non-adherence to medication is forgetting to take the medication or get a refill in time. Pharmacists have the list of medication of the patient, and they assess it to improve medication adherence in association with the health care team of the patient. However, pharmacists work with patients to take medications suitably in case of non-adherence of medicines.
From the points mentioned above, it is clear that pharmacists play a significant role in patient safety. They are responsible for making sure safe, appropriate, and effective use of medication. Besides, they educate and well-inform the patient on their therapy and care adherent to their medication. Thus, pharmacists help in promoting a safe culture for the patients in the pharmacy settings.
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