For the study, Murray's group looked at the effect of having pharmacists involved in medication decisions in cutting down on medication errors and adverse drug effects among 800 patients with high blood pressure. Included among these patients were some with heart failure or other heart conditions. The researchers used a computer program to identify adverse drug reactions among the patients.
Patients assigned pharmacists intervention received instructions on using their medications. In addition, the pharmacists monitored the patients' drugs and communicated with both the patient and the patient's primary-care doctor to help improve adherence to medication regimens.
The researchers found that patients receiving pharmacists' interventions had fewer medication errors and adverse drug reactions compared with the other patients. In fact, there was a 34 percent lower risk of any event, including a 35 percent lower risk of an adverse drug reaction and a 37 percent lower risk of medication error.
"There are way in which pharmacists can work collaboratively with the other members of the health-care team to improve patient safety in the outpatient setting," Murray said.
"This study shows the importance of having a pharmacist actively involved in asking about how the patient is doing, what type of side effects is the patient having, and is the patients taking the medication," Grissinger said. "That is as important as the initial consultation."
For more information on medication error, visit the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
SOURCES: Michael D. Murray, Pharm.D., M.P.H., chair, department of pharmaceutical policy and evaluative sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Jeffrey L. Sch
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