ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

December 26, 2010

PPMI Summit Brings Pharmacy Leaders Together

More than 150 pharmacy leaders from across the country met in Dallas Nov. 7–9, 2010, to discuss what hospital and health-system pharmacy practice should look like in the future. Participants in the ASHP/ASHP Research and Education Foundation Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative Summit reached consensus on 41 characteristics that should be major features of optimal pharmacy practice models in hospitals and health systems, including the following:

  • New practice models need to move the pharmacist closer to the patient;
  • New practice models need to greatly expand the role of a qualified technician workforce and the use of technology;
  • New practice models need to ensure pharmacy departments are accountable for the development and implementation of medication-use policy to ensure safe and effective use of medications; and
  • New practice models need to require pharmacists to be accountable for patient outcomes.

June 1, 2008

Getting to the Root of IV Medication Errors

            In November 2007, an intravenous medication error that could have been fatal for the newborn twin daughters of actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly occurred. Sadly, this event is only the latest in a series of recent errors that injured or killed a child. Part of the tragedy of these events is that we, as healthcare providers, continue to ignore the lessons that should have been learned.

            Even though several of these errors occurred with medications that have now been re-labeled, the contributory factors remain. Non-standardization; poorly designed, incomplete, or ambiguous labeling; unsafe storage practices; and inadequately trained or supervised personnel—all are part of a IV medication-use system that must be overhauled.

            The biomedical literature is replete with research on the causes of IV medication errors and successful preventive strategies, some of which have been used effectively. But this knowledge has not made a lasting, sustainable change in the way hospitals and health systems work; in packaging, labeling, and equipment design improvements; or in the creation of new mandatory regulatory or quality standards.

            So, ASHP is stepping into the gap to bring about fundamental, lasting change. Together with the ASHP Research and Education Foundation, we are calling together key players July 14–15 to an IV Safety Summit to study this issue in depth and seek new solutions.

            Panelists include nationally renowned experts like medication-safety advocate David Bates, M.D., with Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Carolyn Clancy, M.D., with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and Gerald J. Dal Pan, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Safety for the FDA. Other participants include representatives from healthcare professional associations, industry, federal agencies, safety and quality oversight groups, and human factors experts.

            Together, we will examine current evidence on the causes of intravenous errors, such as clinical issues, human factors, process design, and technology, as well as effective error-prevention methods. Our goal is action that will create sustainable changes in our hospitals and health systems. It’s time to put an end to IV medication errors, once and for all.

March 1, 2008

The Importance of Communicating Clearly with Our Patients

            I have been thinking a lot lately about the effect of poor health literacy on our patients’ ability to understand and correctly use their medi­cations. Only 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. In other words, nearly nine out of 10 adults may lack the skills needed to successfully manage their health and prevent disease.

            Other studies back that up, finding, for example, that patients suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or HIV/AIDS know less about their illness and how to man­age it properly if they have poor health literacy.

            ASHP cares deeply about this public health issue and is doing a number of things to address it. As you’ll see in the 2007 Annual Report that accompanies this magazine, we recently collaborated with the ASHP Research and Education Foundation to create My Medicine List™.

            Designed to help patients document the kind of medica­tion information that is essential to share with pharmacists and other healthcare providers, the tool is an outcome of the Continuity of Care in Medication Use Summit that ASHP and the Foundation sponsored last year. The list, which was specially designed to meet health literacy require­ments, can be found on www.SafeMedication.com and www.ashpfoundation.org.

            I encourage you to begin thinking about how you can help improve the ways in which you communicate with patients about their medications. Don’t take anything for granted. If health literacy isn’t on your administration’s radar screen, begin to talk about it. Share some facts and figures with your phar­macy team about the impact of literacy on compliance, patient health, and the cost of healthcare.

            The data is readily available on many federal, state and private healthcare Web sites, including www.health.gov, www.nih.gov, and www.hrsa.gov.  Many of the most relevant studies are captured on ASHP’s Web site; simply go to www.ashp.org and search on the term “health literacy.”

           And be sure to share My Medicine List with your patients, colleagues, family, and friends. A key part of our mission as pharmacists is to ensure that our patients understand how to use their medications safely and effectively. Beginning to break down health literacy barriers can go a long way toward that goal.

Leadership Center Kicks Off Inaugural Year, Enrolls First Class

Eighty- five pharmacists have enrolled in the inaugural academic program of ASHP’s new Center for Health-System Pharmacy Leadership. The Center, a collaborative effort between ASHP and the ASHP Research and Education Foundation, will help pharmacy leaders address the increasingly complex challenges of institution-wide medication-use policies and procedures.

The Internet-based Pharmacy Leadership Academy is designed for pharmacists in new leadership positions, such as directors, and those aspiring to similar posts in the future.

Center Director Richard S. Walling, M.H.A., said the Academy’s work has come at a critical time for the pharmacy profession. “The academy arose out of ASHP members’ concern that pharmacists don’t have opportunities to build their leader­ship competencies,” he said, adding that the Academy offers students direct access to exceptional faculty members who are “leaders of pharmacy enterprises. Each of them has greatly impacted the profession, and their collective experiences will provide participants with a fantastic learning laboratory.”

The Academy features nine modules—one for each month of the academic year—that cover topics such as patient safety, quality management, information systems, and human resources management. Students will learn how to lead people for results, work collaboratively with executive health-system leadership, and develop themselves professionally to achieve excellence.

Jennifer Austin, Pharm.D., a pharmacy manager at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and student in the inaugural class, said she applied because she was excited by the prospect of working with experienced faculty.

After transitioning from clinical practice to her position as a pharmacy manager, Austin took local college courses, employer-provided training sessions, and continuing education program­ming to receive leadership training. But “I have always wanted a more structured and in-depth pharmacy-focused program,” Austin said, adding that she hopes to broaden her knowledge of pharmacy practice management and prepare herself for addi­tional responsibilities.

While the Academy is geared toward new leaders, the Center’s Pharmacy Leadership Institute will focus on seasoned and experienced health-system pharmacy directors and will be operated by the Boston University School of Business.

For more information on the Center for Health-System Pharmacy Leadership and its Pharmacy Leadership Academy and Pharmacy Leadership Institute, check out www.ashpfoundation.org.

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