Pharmacists in the ED Enhance Patient Care, Doctors and Nurses Say


WASHINGTON – A 99% majority of emergency department staff said that a clinical emergency pharmacist in the ED improved the quality of patient care, based on data presented at a conference sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation.

Drug-related adverse events in the ED remain a significant public health problem. Reports of the success of clinical pharmacists in other hospital areas suggest that the ED-based clinical pharmacists could improve the quality of patient care; however, ED-based pharmacy programs are relatively rare, and their impact has not been well studied.

To assess the ED staff's perception of their facility's emergency clinical pharmacists, Dr. Roger J. Fairbanks and colleagues at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) surveyed a random sample of ED staff members in a tertiary care academic medical center and trauma center that included an emergency medicine residency program.

Anecdotal reports suggest that ED staff members value clinical pharmacists, but no previous studies had addressed the question, the researchers said in a poster.

They collected responses from 33 doctors and other health care providers and 42 nurses as part of a research program supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

A total of 96% of the respondents said that the emergency pharmacist was an integral part of the ED team. In addition, 93% of the respondents said that they regularly consulted the emergency pharmacist, and 93% reported using the pharmacist more in the ED location than in the pharmacist's previous location.

Overall, 47% of the ED staff (55% of physicians and other providers and 40% of nurses) said that immediate availability for consultation was the most valuable role of a clinical pharmacist. By contrast, slightly more nurses than doctors or other providers reported that attending medical and trauma resuscitations was the most valuable role of an emergency pharmacist (38% vs. 22%, 36% overall). Another 7% of the respondents said that the emergency pharmacist's most important role was reviewing orders, and 8% said that the emergency pharmacist's most important role was staff education.

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