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Medication Errors Cut with Pharmacist Intervention--May 2009

Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos, Staff Writer
Published Online: Thursday, May 7, 2009

A new study underscores the crucial role pharmacists play in reducing medication errors and adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

Medication errors are one of the most common medical errors, affecting more than 1 million patients every year and costing the health care system billions of dollars annually, researchers noted in the April 27, 2009, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study looked at the effect of having pharmacists involved in medication decisions in reducing medication errors and adverse drug effects among 800 outpatients with high blood pressure. The group also included patients with heart failure or other heart conditions. The researchers used a computer program to identify ADRs among patients. The patient-pharmacist intervention group received instructions on using their medications. Furthermore, the pharmacists monitored the patients' drugs and communicated with both the patient and the patient's physician to help improve adherence to medication regimens.

The findings showed that the patient-pharmacist intervention group had less medication errors and ADRs, compared with the control group. Specifically, the risk was 34% lower for any event for the pharmacist group, including a 35% lower risk of an ADR and a 37% risk of medication error.

"This study shows the importance of having a pharmacist actively involved in asking how the patient is doing, what type of side effects is the patient having, and is the patient taking the medication," said Matthew Grissinger, RPh, a medication safety analyst for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. "That is as important as the initial consultation."

For other articles in this issue, see:

Drug Companies Ramp Up Swine Flu Drug Production

New Labels Coming for OTC Painkillers

On the Horizon--Performance-Based Contracts for Drugs?

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