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‘Hospital druggists are guardians protecting patients from medication error’
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2017.08.22 15:09
  • Updated 2017.08.23 15:17
  • comments 0

So many hospitals are offering multidisciplinary treatments that it has long ceased to be news. However, fewer than expected people know “pharmacists” are participating in hospitals’ multidisciplinary treatments.

Pharmacists belonging to the multidisciplinary treatment teams at many tertiary general hospitals, aside from fulfilling their fundamental duty of preparing drugs and advising patients on their use, are playing various other roles, including providing appropriate advice to doctors and nurses based on patients’ drug-taking and prescription records, preventing drug misuse, and managing drugs within wards.

Specialized druggists are also working in various fragmented areas, such as drugs for critical patients, cancer drugs, nutritional drugs, anticoagulant drugs, and druggists for organ transplantation patients. People call them hospital pharmacists.

Seoul National University Hospital서울대병원 is one of the institutions where pharmacists are actively taking part in multidisciplinary treatments and engaging in drug counseling.

SNUH introduced a resident pharmacist system in 1980, and have made pharmacists join in doctors’ daily rounds since 2010.

As medication specialists, they provide advice on the appropriate use of drugs and side effects after examining patients’ treatment and dietary therapies.

After SNUH confirmed the hospital druggists’ contribution to improving patients’ safety, the institution allowed them to join the treatment team dealing with the intensive care unit of the internal medicine department in 2012. Starting this year, the hospital also put pharmacists into the intensive care unit of patients with respiratory diseases.

In addition, SNUH’s Pharmacy Department is conducting consultations with patients on drugs and diets before doctors meet them and giving the results to medical staffs.

"We share an electronic system made in the pharmacy division with physicians to discuss patients’ drugs and share screened information about outpatients with medical workers a day before their visits. Doctors and patients have been very satisfied with the system,” said pharmacists Kim Young-ae, a pharmacist specializing in organ transplant.

They are also actively involved in preliminary checks to prevent medication errors.

"In 2009, we set up a committee in the pharmacy department responsible for the safe use of drugs and have since checked drug misuse in each division every month. We have ferreted out these medication errors before they are administered to patients, and therefore, they have not occurred in patients,” said Kim Gui-sook김귀숙 director of the pharmacy department. “Problems occurred because of similar shapes, colors, names, labels, and drug codes. We checked misuses in advance, analyzed and reported them to the pharmacy division and the hospital every month. We asked pharmaceutical companies to help minimize misuses by changing confusing signals.”

Seoul National University Hospital has also made a drug guideline for people aged 65 or older and tried to evaluate its validity in hospitalized patients. That because elderly patients with various associated diseases take seven or eight drugs on average, making it inevitable to check it.

“As patients aged 65 or over take many drugs, active screening is essential. We have made evaluation papers for elderly drug use, and are assessing whether they are right to be applied to clinical fields by conducting tests on inpatients. We aim to expand the trials to outpatients next year," said Kim A-jung 김아정, chief of the pharmaceutical education part.

The SNUH Pharmacy Department and the Public Healthcare Business Corps will hold a symposium on the topic of “patient safety and the roles of hospitals pharmacists” on Aug. 31 at the hospital and announce the results of their efforts.

In the symposium, the participants will discuss the management of drug use by hospitals pharmacists for patient safety, and efforts to improve patient safety made by hospital pharmacists at SNUH.

"Many people don’t know the existence of pharmacists in hospitals. Hospitals’ role is to help patients remain healthy and happy, let alone diagnosing and treating their diseases,” said Cho Yoon-sook 조윤숙, head of the Pharmacy Department of SNUH. “We will talk about the direction hospitals pharmacists need to pursue at the symposium.”


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