Pharmacist Involvement May Decrease Medication Errors

Two studies suggest benefits of an interdisciplinary medication reconciliation process
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Adding a pharmacist to health care teams may significantly decrease patients' risk of adverse drug events and medication errors, according to a report published in the April 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. A second study indicates that an interdisciplinary medication reconciliation intervention can also reduce unintentional medication discrepancies with potential for harm.

In one study, Michael D. Murray, Pharm.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a pooled analysis of two studies in which 800 outpatients with hypertension were randomly assigned to either a pharmacist intervention or no intervention. The investigators found that the intervention groups had a significantly lower risk of adverse drug events and medication errors (risk ratios, 0.66 and 0.63, respectively).

In a second study, Jeffrey L. Schnipper, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues randomly assigned 322 patients to either an intervention with a computerized medication reconciliation tool and process redesign managed by physicians, nurses and pharmacists, or no intervention. The researchers found that the intervention group had a significantly decreased risk of unintentional medication discrepancies with potential for patient harm (adjusted relative risk, 0.72).

"While adding a pharmacist to the health care team may be more acceptable to providers and patients alike, challenges to widespread implementation exist," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Standardization of the quality-related outcomes would require ongoing education of pharmacists and/or development of high-quality evidence-based decision support aids to pharmacy practice."

Abstract - Murray
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Abstract - Schnipper
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