According to a recent abstract, by Gao et al, ”Admission medication reconciliation utilizing a pharmacy technician
team in the emergency department: a pilot study” presented at the meeting of the American Society of Health Systems- Pharmacists, having a pharmacy tech-pharmacist team in the ED can markedly improve the accuracy of a patient’s medication history and also reveal medication errors missed by medical providers at the time of admission that were not apparent from the electronic medication list.
As many people may recognize, medical providers working in a busy emergency department may not have the time to devote to confirming recent medication lists, especially with patients with extensive numbers of medications. The pharmacists
in this study often devoted up to 15 minutes to verify correct medications, dosages and perform “medical reconciliation”, as we often refer to it. This is a valuable and useful service for medical providers who practice in busy emergency departments.
According to the abstract, there were 1,750 discrepancies identified among 185 patients, for an average of 9.5 discrepancies per patient before the pharmacy intervention. The most common discrepancy, in 55%, was missing information about the last date and time a medication was taken. Other medication errors also were identified, such as incomplete orders in 18%, incorrect orders in 13%, omissions in 11%, and small numbers of duplications and discontinuations.
After the intervention, for patients in the pharmacy group, there were a total of 25 errors, or 0.2 per patient, compared with 425 errors in the control group, which was an average of 2.4 per patient.
Further improvements in patient care made by the pharmacists
included providing patient counseling about issues such as long-term use of medications and advising physicians about potential drug interactions. Based on this limited pilot study, the pharmacy technician-pharmacist team helped to improve the accuracy of patients’ medication history by spotting errors and medication discrepancies, helping to ultimately improve patient safety.
One of the major limitations is that the study was conducted at a single site and only included a small number of patients who all were admitted through the emergency department. The pharmacy team also In addition, the pharmacist-pharmacy tech team was only on site for only 8 hours per day, 5 days a week.
Although this was a small study which will require larger scale validation, I ultimately believe that having a pharmacist-pharmacy tech team in the emergency department helps to improve patient safety, and recommend hospital adminstrators and executives consider putting this in place to help improve patient care. ~ Forbes