How R.N.s view R. Ph.s

November 21, 2005

An exclusive survey of nurses reveals they hold pharmacists in high regard

In an attempt to assess how the two professionals can improve their working relationships, Drug Topics conducted a nationwide on-line survey of nurses. Readers of Drug Topics' sister publications, RN magazine and Healthcare Traveler, a journal for traveling nurses, were surveyed. A total of 565 on-line surveys were returned-225 from readers of RN, for a response rate of 9%, and 340 from Healthcare Traveler, for a 7% response rate.

Here are some of the highlights from that survey:

Surprisingly though, when asked what their typical first course of action is when they have a drug-related question, 39% of the respondents said they consulted a print or on-line source rather than a pharmacist, while 31% reported that they turned to an R.Ph. However, when there's a potential problem involving a drug-related matter, pharmacists are the drug experts that 59% of nurses turn to first (see Figure 1).

When a conflict arises, 49% of the respondents said that nursing and pharmacy each prevails half of the time. However, 39% said that pharmacy usually ends up the winner, and 12% declared that nursing usually winds up on top. Among the most frequent causes of conflicts, according to the respondents: disagreement over possible drug interactions, lack of pharmacy staff to fill medication orders, misunderstanding of the intent of orders, and limitations on medication administration record (MAR) printouts.

Empirical evidence has shown that when pharmacists are situated at nurses' stations on patient floors, drug-related questions are more easily addressed and medication errors are likely to be reduced. In our survey, nurses were asked whether there were pharmacists stationed on patient floors to answer drug-related questions. Only 27% of the respondents said that pharmacists are ensconced on patient floors answering drug-related questions, while 64% commented that they think it's a good idea to have pharmacists situated there.

Similarly, only 28% of respondents said that pharmacists go on patient rounds in their hospitals and nearly three-fourths (73%) think that it would be a good idea for pharmacists to do so.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents said pharmacists served on their institution's pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committees. More than half of the respondents (54%) reported that pharmacists carried a great deal of influence in deciding what drugs are added to their hospital's formulary.