The Value of a Pharmacist in Supporting Medication Safety
Allison Hanson, PharmD, BCPS, 2019-2020 ISMP International Medication Safety Management Fellow, discusses the value of a pharmacist in supporting and implementing medication safety strategies.
Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I'm speaking with Dr. Allison Hanson, the 2019 to 2020 ISMP International Medication Safety Management Fellow, about the value of a pharmacist today.
Dr. Hanson, what do you think the value of the pharmacist is?
Dr. Allison Hanson: Pharmacists are the most accessible medication safety experts there are. About 91% of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, so that's a lot of people that can reach a pharmacist almost immediately. Pharmacists in the community setting are really important because they educate patients on medications, they provide vaccinations, and in addition, they may even be really accessible for COVID-19 testing. We've seen some community pharmacies implementing COVID-19 testing right at the pharmacy. In addition, once the COVID-19 vaccine is hopefully released, we'll see pharmacists giving that vaccine as well.
In addition, in our community pharmacies, we've seen some states allow pharmacists to do what's called therapeutic interchange, which is switch medications for patients that are within the same drug class, and therefore, that's helped alleviate some medication shortages we've seen with COVID-19.
In addition, in the community setting, pharmacists have been assisting with bridging patients between appointments, so prior to some primary care practitioners offering telehealth, we've
seen pharmacists being allowed to take patients’ blood pressures, for example, and continue their medications by prescribing, and so there's some really neat areas that pharmacists have been demonstrating value in.
For myself, as a medication safety practitioner, I think it's really important that we continue to have medication safety practitioners not just in the hospital, but we can also begin implementing those in the community setting as well. In the hospital, we've seen that medication safety pharmacists or medication safety officers implement better strategies, and those better strategies anecdotally have been associated with a decrease in errors because high leverage strategies, more system-based strategies, help prevent medication errors.
So, there's a lot of avenues that pharmacists demonstrate value, as I mentioned, community pharmacies, pharmacist assisting with COVID-19, as well as medication safety pharmacists.
Alana Hippensteele: Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Dr. Allison Hanson.