PUBLISHED: 6:20 PM on Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Pharmacists play vital roles in patient safety
Pharmacists at Bartlett Regional Hospital will use the occasion of National Hospital & Health-System Pharmacy Week - October 19-25, 2008 - to underscore the many new and vital roles they now play in patient care.

The evolution has been especially dramatic in recent years as pharmacists have moved beyond compounding and dispensing medications to become vital members of multidisciplinary patient-care teams.

courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital
  Pharmacists at Bartlett Regional Hospital play a crucial part in a patient care team.
"Many consumers are not aware that pharmacists play a critical role in preventing medication errors, advising prescribers on the best drug choices, and working directly with patients to ensure they understand how to use their medications safely and effectively," said Bartlett's Pharmacy Director, Jenice Watts. "Pharmacy Week is a great way to educate the public about how pharmacists can help them get the most benefit from their medicine."

Hospital and health-system pharmacists have been able to take on enhanced patient-care roles because of a number of factors, including the deployment of highly trained, certified technicians and new technologies like robotics that dispense medications.

As technology evolves, such as the addition of machine-readable codes to medication labels, patients will have greater opportunities to have a pharmacist involved in their care.

Pharmacists who graduate today receive six years of education focused on medication therapy, and many pharmacists practicing in hospitals and health systems also complete post-graduate residency programs.

Pharmacists help make medications work

Today's medications are powerful and complex agents that should be used carefully to ensure a faster recovery and better health. During your stay at Bartlett Regional Hospital the pharmacy staff is here to make sure that you receive the best and safest medications.

Pharmacists in hospitals do more than fill prescriptions. Pharmacists are experts on the thousands of medications available today, how each one works in the body and the ways to use each one safely and effectively. Pharmacists advise doctors and nurses on the best medications to treat your condition. They monitor every patient's medication therapy and provide quality checks to detect and prevent harmful drug interactions, reactions, or mistakes.

The hospital's pharmacists are also available to talk to you about your medications. They can help you understand the appropriate use and intended outcome of your medicine, as well as any possible reactions and side effects. You can also talk to your pharmacist about how to store and take your medication, what foods or activities to avoid, and what to do if you miss a dose.

Here are some tips from the pharmacy department on safe medication use while you are in the hospital:

• Bring a list of the prescribed drugs, over-the-counter medications, home remedies, and nutritional supplements that you are currently taking and show it to the health professional(s) managing your care.

• Bring a list of medications that you cannot take (due to allergic reactions, etc). Give the reasons why, and show it to the health professional(s) managing your care.

• When admitted, feel free to ask for the pharmacist.

• Ask the names of the medications that you are receiving during your hospital or health-system visit.

• Request any written information that is available about your medications.

• Question anything about your medications that you don't understand or that doesn't seem right. Be especially alert to unexpected changes, such as a change in the appearance of your medication.

• Ask your health-system pharmacist if you have any questions about the treatments or medications you receive.

• If you're too ill to follow these suggestions, ask a friend or relative to help.

Always remember that if you have questions about your medications, just ask. Pharmacists have the answers!