|Forget your image of the hospital pharmacist laboring behind a desk, counting pills out of large bottles. The hospital pharmacy has leaped out of that 19th century stereotype and into the 21st century using technology that is redefining the pharmacist’s role in patient care.
The pharmacist has emerged as a key partner in the patient care team. The key has been getting the pharmacist out of the pharmacy and into the hospital’s patient care areas working alongside the physicians, nurses, dietitians, and other professional caregivers.
Union Hospital has adopted a Decentralized Pharmacy System that frees the pharmacist from the traditional flow of paper that had the doctor and patients at one end and the pharmacist and paperwork at the other.
Now, when a patient’s doctor orders a medication, the pharmacist is able to implement the order from any nursing unit in the hospital. The pharmacist may have already consulted with the physician in person, discussing medication alternatives, treatments, dosages, and possible side effects. Pharmacist involvement in treatment decisions would not be as likely if the pharmacist was anchored to the counter in the Pharmacy Department.
Dispensing medications in the hospital has been revolutionized by the Pyxis technology systems. Twenty Pyxis units are located around the hospital, each securely holding hundreds of medications.
The Decentralized Pharmacy System has clearly transformed the pharmacist’s role at Union Hospital. Pharmacists are averaging 1,200 physician consultations or therapeutic interventions every month.
The Decentralized Pharmacy System has the potential to reduce medication errors in every step of the process. There are fewer delays in getting the prescribed medications to patients, and the pharmacists have much more time for clinical care of patients. When certain drugs are prescribed a “therapy review” is triggered, further ensuring that the medication is appropriate and its use is monitored for safety.
Pharmacy services at Union Hospital are using new technology to free the pharmacist from the paper trail and pill bottles.The pharmacist has become much more involved in the patient care team and is using technology to make that care safer by reducing the chance of errors.
Union Hospital often hosts site visits from other hospitals that wish to emulate the use of technology and the Decentralized Pharmacy model.