Atlantic General Hospital Pharmacists Play Vital Role in Improving Patient Safety

10-13-2011
On October 17, Atlantic General Hospital’s pharmacy will begin offering a multitude of enhanced services to patients and the nurses and physicians who care for them during a stay in the hospital.

This includes expanding hours of operation for the pharmacy on weekdays by six hours, to run from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“Many of our patients are admitted after 5 p.m., and they have medication needs that include complex therapies as a result of the treatment ordered,” said James McGinnis, director of pharmacy at Atlantic General. “We expanded our hours so our pharmacy staff is here to help clarify these therapies from a pharmacy perspective and serve as patient advocates.”

Upon admission and the request from a physician, patients will be interviewed by staff pharmacists to create a comprehensive and more accurate inventory of current medications, which can then be referenced at every point of the medication reconciliation process during shift change or transfer to another unit – thus improving patient safety by decreasing the risk of medication error.

Patients receiving multiple medications will also receive in-depth education from the pharmacy staff regarding the timing, dosage and purpose of the medications prior to discharge to ensure that these individuals properly comply with physician orders and remain on the road to recovery.

“Achieving a more patient-centered approach that allows the patient to be an active participant in their healthcare vastly improves the success of treatments and builds trust in the healthcare organization, which is so important to the healing process,” said McGinnis.
Hospital pharmacies across the country are moving toward the patient-centered model of care and away from strictly mixing and distributing medications; Atlantic General Hospital is at the forefront of this movement on the Shore.
These changes are being implemented during National Hospital & Health-System Pharmacy Week, which brings awareness to the critical role that pharmacists play in preventing medication errors.

New services to be provided by the Pharmacy during these extended hours:
Medication Reconciliation – The Pharmacy team supports the staff in performing admission and discharge counseling.
Resolution of Polypharmacy Issues – The Pharmacy performs drug therapy monitoring for patient profiles that include eight or more medications.
Patient Medication Education – The Pharmacy supports the education of patients when they receive new or unfamiliar medications.
Staff Drug Information Needs – The Pharmacy provides medication in-services to the nursing staff for new and/or unfamiliar medications that may appear on patient profiles.
Rounds participation – The Pharmacy staff are active participants during Critical Care and Med-Surg morning rounds.
Pharmacists are experts on the thousands of medications available today, how each one works in the body, and the ways to use each one safely and effectively. Pharmacists who graduate today receive six years of education focused on medication therapy, and many pharmacists practicing in hospitals and health systems also complete post-graduate residency programs.

Nearly half of Atlantic General’s pharmacy staff have completed residencies or have received advanced training.

About Atlantic General Hospital
Atlantic General Hospital has been providing quality health care to the residents of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset (Md.) and Sussex (Del.) Counties since May 1993. Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin, Md. combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology and services. Atlantic General Health System, its network of more than 25 primary care provider and specialist offices, care for residents and visitors throughout the region. For more information about Atlantic General Hospital, visit www.atlanticgeneral.org.
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