Over the past several decades, the number of medications and the complexity of drug therapy has grown enormously, said Paul Abramowitz, director of Pharmaceutical Care at UI Hospitals and Clinics, where approximately 90 pharmacists provide clinical care.
"Pharmacists focus on all aspects of the patient's drug therapy. They work with the patient, physician, and nurse to help maximize the benefits and outcomes of medications and to minimize adverse effects," Abramowitz said.
"This also includes a significant amount of attention to medication safety in every step in the medication use process" added Abramowitz, who also is a professor and an assistant dean at the UI College of Pharmacy.
As part of a patient's hospital stay, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations mandates a "medication reconciliation." Health care providers review with the patient the drugs taken from admission through discharge to ensure appropriateness. The reconciliation also helps a patient understand costs, conveniences and other factors that might affect the intended use of the medication.
For patients with dementia, health illiteracy or other problems that could affect use of medications, the pharmacist also can meet with family members or other helpers for medication planning.
Carl Hensely II, pharmacy benefits manager for VA hospitals in Veterans Integrated Service Network 23, which covers five states including Iowa, said pharmacists' efforts help decrease costs and improve quality of life.
"Patients are more satisfied if they have more contact with a pharmacist or at least are given the opportunity to do so," Hensley said. "For example, they can better understand what might happen if they miss a dose or why they need to take a medication even if it has a short
Contact: Becky Soglin
University of Iowa