/publications/issue/2005/2005-09/2005-09-9808

APhA Calls for Restoring Residency Funds

Author: Ken Rankin

Current plans to slash federal funding for hospital-based specialized pharmacy residency programs will "negatively affect pharmacy services and patient care" and "place patients at greater risk of medication errors," officials of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) have warned.

In comments filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), APhA officials voiced strong concerns about the decision to eliminate federal funding for second-year specialized pharmacy residencies. Hospital pharmacists generally are not required to complete such training before gaining employment at an institution.

Originally, CMS proposed to eliminate funding for all hospital pharmacy residency programs. In response to thousands of comments from pharmacists protesting the move, however, the agency agreed to allow funds to be used to support first-year hospital residencies.

In urging CMS to reverse its decision on cutting funds for second-year pharmacy residencies as well, APhA officials argued that the cuts could actually drive up health care costs. "With fewer pharmacists serving as specialized pharmacy residents, it will be much harder for the remaining staff to maintain the appropriate level of pharmacy services," they said.

Noting that "the services that pharmacy residents provide can reduce patient-related costs," the APhA officials said that specialized pharmacy residents "can help patients appropriately manage their medication use, effectively reducing the length of hospital stays and reducing the need for future hospitalizations."

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.