LRMC pharmacy highlights vital role in improving patient safety

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center would like to use National Hospital & Health System Pharmacy Week, which takes place Sunday to Oct. 22, to underscore the roles they play in patient care. The evolution in pharmacy has been especially dramatic in recent years as pharmacists have moved beyond compounding and dispensing medications to become vital members of multidisciplinary patient-care teams.

“Many consumers are not aware that pharmacists play a critical role in preventing medication errors, advising prescribers on the best drug choices, and working directly with patients to ensure they understand how to use their medications safely and effectively,” said Tim Ekola, medication safety pharmacist at LRMC. “Pharmacy Week is a great way to educate the public on how the pharmacy team can help them with their medicine.”

The LRMC pharmacy department will kick off Pharmacy Week with a cake-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Monday in the LRMC pharmacy patient waiting room to show appreciation to the LRMC staff and patients as well as the successes of the pharmacy department after the recent remodeling and restructuring of the prescription flow process. 

Another highlight of the week includes a Pharmacy Brown Bag Event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the LRMC pharmacy, providing the community the chance to bring in their medications for a free consultation.

“A brown bag event is a free service to the community for patients to bring in all of their medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, for a one-on-one review with a pharmacist,” said Jeni Hug, outpatient pharmacy supervisor at LRMC. “We hope to improve patient-pharmacist relationships and promote medication compliance and safety.” 

No sign-up is required for the event.

In addition, on Thursday, pharmacists will take the opportunity to honor the role pharmacy technicians play in ensuring the success of pharmacy operations by recognizing the outstanding Pharmacy Technician of the Year. Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks associated with preparing and dispensing prescribed medications for patients, but may also perform intravenous compounding of medications, provide advice for non-prescription medications, inventory and track medication and supply orders, and other administrative tasks. Army, Air Force and Navy pharmacy technicians all receive six month of job-specific training.

During the past 10 to 15 years, advances in technology and education have allowed outpatient and inpatient pharmacists to take on enhanced patient-care roles because of a number of factors, including the deployment of trained, certified technicians and automated bar-coding systems to decrease time spent on dispensing tasks as well as increase medication safety. As technology evolves — such as the addition of machine-readable codes to medication labels — patients will have greater opportunities to have a pharmacist involved in their care. 

Pharmacists are your experts on the thousands of medications available today, including how they work in the body and 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 are board certified in various specialty areas, including pharmacotherapy, nutrition and behavioral health. Some have also completed post-graduate residency programs.  They advise doctors and nurses on the medication selection and monitor every patient’s medication therapy and provide quality checks to detect and prevent harmful drug interactions, reactions or mistakes.

(Courtesy of LRMC Public Affairs)