ASHP 08: HRSA medication safety collaborative reports positive outcomes

December 7, 2008

Pharmacists and healthcare organizations involved in the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)'s Patient Safety and Pharmacy Services Collaborative are already seeing positive results in reducing medication errors and reconciling medications, according to early outcomes presented on Sunday.

Pharmacists and healthcare organizations involved in theDepartment of Health and Human Services Health Resources andServices Administration (HRSA)'s Patient Safety and PharmacyServices Collaborative are already seeing positive results inreducing medication errors and reconciling medications, accordingto early outcomes presented on Sunday.

For example, Northeast Iowa Collaborative Healthcare hasseen an improvement in drug dispensing among participatingpatients with hypertension and diabetes. In an early test, thenumber of diabetic patients who remained on their prescribedanti-diabetic regimens increased from 79 percent in September2008 to around 85% in October 2008.

The Collaborative, which the HRSA started as a public-privatepartnership in the fall of 2007, was designed to gatherhealthcare professionals of all types within a community to worktogether to reduce medication errors.

Seventy-eight teams spanning 230 organizations have beenorganized across the country, and some are beginning the testingphase.

Although the pharmacy industry has made significant strides inreducing medication errors, these errors still injure 1.5million people annually and cost the industry billions of dollarseach year, said Krista Pedley, program management officer of theHRSA's Office of Pharmacy Affairs.

"These errors are continuing to happen. We need to be in theforefront, especially in the pharmacy community, to make surethat we limit these headlines," Pedley said.

In addition to pharmacists, the Collaborative teams includecommunity health centers, chain drug stores, state offices ofrural health, colleges of pharmacy, rural health clinics, andnursing homes.

"By integrating clinical pharmacy services into the system, wewill create safer outcomes. We know it is going to make a newkind of healthcare delivery system," Pedley said.

In addition, better communication among the varioushealthcare organizations that treat the same patients within acommunity has been a positive side benefit of the Collaborative."The number of teams that have come together that have neverspoken to each other in community-based partnerships [isincredible]," said Todd Sorenson, PSPC faculty co-chair andassociate professor with the University of Minnesota College ofPharmacy, St. Paul. For example, the College of Pharmacy isalready communicating more with a major local healthcareorganization about issues involving medication reconciliation andpost-discharge follow-up of patients the two organizations havein common.