The Need for Trauma Team Pharmacists

August 2, 2019

Survey indicates need for greater pharmacist presence. 

A national survey in 2007 found that only 23% of American College of Surgeons (ACS) trauma centers involved pharmacists in trauma resuscitation; however, in an article published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, a group of pharmacists conducted a follow-up survey in 2017, assessing 335 ACS trauma centers.

The national, cross-sectional study evaluated the prevalence and responsibility of pharmacist participation in trauma resuscitation and trauma programs in the US.

The researchers found that pharmacist involvement with trauma teams increased significantly from 23% in 2007 to 70% in 2017. “In addition to the clinical benefits at the bedside, pharmacists can support the regular activities of a trauma program in many meaningful ways,” the researchers write.

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The percentage of respondents who believe that pharmacist involvement on trauma teams was “valuable” or “extremely valuable” was the highest among respondents with current pharmacist involvement (97%), versus respondents without pharmacist involvement who were considering it for the future (75%) or not considering it at all (24%).

Those pharmacists that are participating in trauma resuscitation (70%) are practicing in the emergency department. Pharmacist services provided during trauma resuscitation include dosage calculations, medication information, medical procurement and preparation, and intravenous compatibility recommendations. 

In 2007 and 2017, 11% of trauma centers considered future pharmacist involvement in trauma teams. 

Reasons for not considering pharmacist involvement in trauma teams in 2017, like in 2007, included: staffing difficulties, perceived lack of need or value, lack of pharmacist training, and cost.

 

Interestingly, eight respondents stated that they did not realize pharmacists could have a role in trauma resuscitation. “This indicates that further promotion of this clinical service is still needed,” the authors write. Additional research specifically evaluating pharmacists’ roles; responsibilities; and value in improving patient outcomes, guideline compliance, and economic benefits is needed.