Practice Spotlight: Medication Safety Pharmacist
Patient safety is of paramount importance in health care. Adverse drug-related events constitute a significant proportion of the adverse events experienced by patients who have been admitted to hospital. This health care issue has been the focus of advocacy efforts by organizations such as the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada), and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP). In many of the guidelines and standards set by these organizations, pharmacists play an integral leadership role. Under the guidance of former director of pharmacy Brian Tuttle, the pharmacy management team of Halifax’s Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) identified the need for a dedicated pharmacist position to promote and advance safe medication practices in the CDHA’s facilities (ranging from small community-based facilities to a large quaternary care teaching hospital with more than 500 beds). In April 2007, the full-time position of medication safety pharmacist was created.
The current medication safety pharmacist at the CDHA, Jennifer Turple, has a broad understanding of the medication-use process, stemming from her prior work experience as a pharmacy technician and as both a dispensary-based and a clinical pharmacist. This experience serves her well in her day-to-day tasks, since safety-related deficiencies in medication practices may be identified at any point in the continuum of the medication-use process, including prescribing, dispensing, and drug administration. Some of the activities that have been undertaken to promote safe medication practices are described below.
As the dedicated medication safety pharmacist, Ms Turple has been heavily involved in the development of a policy for the implementation of medication reconciliation. This has included development of a best possible medication history and admission and discharge forms, a self-learning module for nursing staff, and various other educational tools. As a member of the multidisciplinary Medication Reconciliation Steering Committee, a major component of her role has been to educate the site- and service-specific implementation teams about the medication reconciliation process, through a train-the-trainer model.