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Pharmacists Play Key Role in Patient Safety

Pharmacists Play Key Role in Patient Safety
Pharmacists Play Key Role in Patient Safety


Duke Health News Duke Health News

The traditional image of a pharmacist is someone who compounds and dispenses medications in a retail setting. That image, as well as the pharmacist's role in health care, is changing.

Elizabeth Mejia-Millan, a pharmacist in the Drug Information Center at Duke University Medical Center, says pharmacists are playing a larger role in health care than ever before.

"Today we see pharmacists much more involved in patient-centered care," she says. "They are providing counseling to patients and also providing information to the other members of hospital medical teams about the safe and appropriate use of medications."

A growing number of hospitals, including Duke, now include a pharmacist on the health-care team making patient rounds, says Mejia-Millan. "This is the model that's being taught and developed in pharmacy schools throughout the country, that of patient-centered care," she explained. "I see this as a growing trend. Throughout the next several years, the pharmacist will become much more integrated into patient care, reducing medication errors ultimately."

Mejia-Millan says more than 7,000 deaths due to medication errors occur each year in the United States. Several recent research studies have shown that adding a pharmacist as a member of the hospital health-care team making physician rounds can cut the incidence of medication errors, and potentially adverse drug reactions, dramatically.

"We see somewhere between a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction in medication errors when pharmacists participate in patient rounds," she says.

Mejia-Millan says having pharmacists participate on hospital patient-care teams will help ensure that patients receive medications that are appropriate, effective and safe.

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