Pharmacists key to reducing infections, hospitalizations

Add pharmacists to the list of care givers, hospitals and consumer groups that will help the Health & Human Services' national patient safety collaboration save more than 60,000 lives and up to $35 billion in healthcare costs by the end of 2013.

"Pharmacists play a key role in the Partnership for Patients' aims to reduce adverse drug events and improve care transitions," Dr. Brian J. Isetts, a University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy professor and health policy fellow for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, said in a Medscape Medical News interview Friday.

By getting patients to use their medication correctly, pharmacists can keep patients from getting hospital-acquired conditions or from returning to the hospital.

For the Partnership for Patients program to succeed, pharmacists must partner with physicians and other hospital staff to deliver team-based care, Isetts notes. For instance, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Project RED found that coordinating clinical pharmacists, nurse advocates and primary care providers with individualized patient instruction in the discharge process led to a 24 percent drop in hospitalizations, he told Medscape.

With pharmacists on board, coordinated, team-based care should emphasize medication reconciliation, which provides the right medications to the patient at all care transitions within the hospital, according to the interview.

Meanwhile, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital of Loyola University Health System in October increased communication between patients and inpatient pharmacists to prevent costly readmissions.

For more information:
- check out the Medscape interview (reg. req.)