A University of Iowa study finds when pharmacists come out from behind the counter and work directly with patients, the number of medication errors and other problems are greatly reduced. Peter Kaboli, a U-of-I internal medicine professor who headed up the study, says it seems like a no-brainer.
Earlier studies looked at monitoring specific drugs, which pharmacists are very good at doing, but Doctor Kaboli says the studies evolved over time into having pharmacists interview patients, interact with physicians while they’re rounding and looking at it as more of a team approach, which is the way health care is moving.
Kaboli says the change in pharmacists’ roles over the past 20 years has also helped patients understand and follow their drug regimes. He calls pharmacists an “incredible resource for information” both at the pharmacy but also when you’re in the hospital. He says one problem is when a patient is in the hospital, they’ve been sick, their medication may have changed, the doctors or nurses don’t have time to fully explain everything, so they go home and get confused.
Pharmacists can be very helpful, he says, if they work with patients while the patient is still at the hospital. Kaboli says “That’s where pharmacists can be incredibly valuable and studies show that, that if they help at the time of discharge, reconciling medications, talking to the patient and even doing follow-up telephone calls in three or four days to make sure the patient got their medicines and understands what they’re taking, can really make a big difference.”
Kaboli is also an investigator with the Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies at the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System. The team analyzed 36 studies that were published between 1985 and 2005 in medical journals. The study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.