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Care Rounds Improve Pharmacist-Patient Communication

Jun 14, 2011

Pharmacists Joy Patterson and Amy Fawcett work with a patient at Foundation Surgical Hospital.

THE PHARMACY DEPARTMENT AT FOUNDATION SURGICAL HOSPITAL in San Antonio is taking our customer service and medication education to the next level. Our hospital specializes in orthopedic, bariatric, neurology, and other elective surgical procedures. The patient care goal of Foundation is to surpass the patient’s expectations in health care.

Though we feel like part of the Foundation family, the pharmacists are contract employees of Comprehensive Pharmacy Services. We aspire to seize every opportunity to practice patient-focused care, integrity, excellence, and servant leadership at Foundation. It is our ambition to expand our visibility and value to the hospital, medical staff, and patients on a daily  basis. One of our latest accomplishments has been the beginning of our Pharmacy Care Rounds service.

Improving Pharmacist-Patient Interaction

Before November 2010, the pharmacist’s participation in patient education opportunities could be described as hit-or-miss. Though the pharmacists, Amy Fawcett, Joy Patterson, and I, assisted the medical staff with drug therapy questions, daily patient contact was missing.

Interaction occasionally occurred when warfarin education or an unusual circumstance prompted a nursing staff member to ask for help from the pharmacy department. REM counseling and pain management assessments are standard services provided by our pharmacists, but because we are a small facility, these patient interactions are somewhat limited.

Foundation Surgical Hospital participates in a patient survey process. This reporting mechanism allows our services and facility to be compared nationally with other hospitals. One of the items on the survey that rated below our expectations (but still above the national average) was communicating with patients about their medications.

Pharmacy Care Rounds

The pharmacists discussed possible solutions, which I then took to Chief Nursing Officer Ken Crouch. We decided to try something new called Pharmacy Care Rounds. The hospital’s administration approved a small financial commitment for printed materials, and the pharmacists rose to the challenge.

The Pharmacy Care Rounds are personal visits by a pharmacist with each inpatient during his or her hospital stay. A pharmacist uses the visit to discuss pain control, disease state medication compliance, new medications, and allergy and side-effect issues.

We have numerous patients who have very little knowledge of their allergies or medications. Lack of well-documented information makes our job of patient safety difficult to manage.

To help, we started distributing the ASHP Foundation’s “My Medication List,” found at www.safemedication.com. This is a great tool in which patients record their medications and medical history in an easy-to-use format that facilitates the transfer of information at doctor visits, outpatient pharmacies, or future hospital admissions.

The patient can also go to the website, download an additional copy of the form, complete it electronically, and save and print multiple copies.

Another handout that we leave with our patients discusses the Institute for Safe Medication Practices’ (ISMP’s) Consumer Med Safety website, which allows patients to receive alert messages about the medications they take. Lastly, the pharmacist leaves a business card, in case the patient thinks of a question after we visit.

Improving Survey Scores

Pharmacy rounds have not only benefited our patients; they have helped improve the reputation of hospital pharmacists. Consistently, our patients say that they did not know that hospitals had pharmacists, and they are thrilled we take the initiative to talk about their concerns.

The hospital’s survey scores rose 10 points in the first quarter following the implementation of these rounds. Links to SafeMedication.com and ISMP’s Consumer Med Safety site have been added to the patient page of the hospital’s website. Next on the pharmacy department’s agenda is expansion of the Pharmacy Care Rounds into the preoperative and outpatient areas.

By Lori P. Houser, R.Ph., pharmacy director of comprehensive pharmacy services, Foundation Surgical Hospital, San Antonio, Tex.

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