Minimum Standards in Pharmacy

When a profession sets standards for itself, it allows the profession to advance, raises overall quality, and helps to assure greater practice uniformity.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) recently revised the “ASHP Guideline: Minimum Standard for Pharmacies in Hospitals.” As I read Bruce Hawkins’ note about the document’s revisions, many memories were stirred. The original document went back to 1953, but when I started my residency/MSc program in 1961, my preceptor and mentor, Clifton J. Latiolais, often talked about foundational aspects of hospital pharmacy’s development. He saw the development of these standards as critical to the growth in hospital pharmacy. It set a foundation for hospital pharmacy service and provided a guide for how a hospital pharmacy director could advance pharmacy services.

I have often thought about how different hospital pharmacy has been from community pharmacy in this regard. Minimum standards for community pharmacy were usually set by state boards of pharmacy and not by the profession. I believe that the willingness of hospital pharmacy practitioners to set standards for themselves is a reason hospital pharmacy has made such great strides.

On the other hand, I feel that the lack of professionally developed minimum standards in community pharmacy has held it back. This is the reason I have supported accreditation for community pharmacy. Making a pharmacy program accountable to a set of standards developed by the profession offers the opportunity to advance the profession, raise overall quality, and, perhaps most importantly, assure greater practice uniformity. What do you think?