Following Guidelines

Throughout school, we are always taught the “proper” technique or the “correct” way of doing something, which makes sense for the environment we are in. We are taught the best practices for our settings and how to make evidence-based decisions in patient care. We are taught how things should be done and why doing things in the correct way helps prevent patient harm. Then why, in the real world, does this not always happen?

Know Your Numbers

Whether it is survey responses you have been waiting on for weeks or a spreadsheet full of data you requested, your first instinct may be to dive right into drawing conclusions from the numbers.


Although it may be difficult to resist instantly interpreting your long awaited results, there is a crucial step that must come first. You must begin with reviewing the raw data. What are your numbers really showing?

Be Confident and Speak Up

As an APPE student on a solid-organ transplant unit, I was assigned patients to follow throughout the duration of their hospital stay.  One day during the rotation, I was assigned a patient who received a kidney transplant less than a year prior and had been experiencing high CMV viral loads despite the prophylactic treatment following the operation.  The patient was now on the verge of suffering from active CMV complications and was admitted for aggressive treatment of drug-resistant CMV.  After thorough review of current guidelines and drug information, I realized that this

Dig a Little Deeper

It was during a medication reconciliation for one of our surgical patients when I noticed a discrepancy. Her electronic medical record (EMR) showed that she was on “ferrous sulfate 325 mg one tablet by mouth daily.” However, the patient told me that she “took five of the 65 mg iron tablets.” This dose did not sound right to me; the common daily dose of ferrous sulfate is 325 mg, which contains 65 mg of elemental Iron.

How to Accomplish Your 5-Year Plan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I am sure most of us have been asked this question at least once. For example, if your answer is “I want to be working as a full time pharmacist, own a home, and adopt a dog in 5 years”, then you have completed the first step towards goal setting. You have identified were you want to be and the next step requires you to assess your current situation to determine what steps you need to take to achieve your end goal.

Don't Assume

A nurse plopped down in the chair next to me with a frustrated look on her face. She needed my help to re-educate a patient. This patient and her spouse, there for support, have been coming into clinic to get her chemotherapy infusions. She is on a specific chemotherapy regimen which involves taking steroids the day before, the day of, and the day after her chemotherapy infusion. Week after week someone educates the patient-spouse pair on the steroids, and week after week the patient returns to clinic without taking them.

Should a Medication Safety Pharmacist be a Humble Leader?

The concepts of humbleness and humility are frequently shared as key leadership skills for the future.  A 2016 article in the Washington Post by Ashley Merryman suggests that research about leadership shows that humble leaders are often more influential and effective than their narcissistic peers are.  Merryman shares a long list of other benefits of humble leadership based on research.  In many ways, humility on the part of a leader provides a path to better self-awareness and the development of an accurate inventory of strengths and weaknesses – along with a will to i

Jump On In

A few months ago I was rounding with a team of surgeons and saw that one of our patients had a note in her chart that she only spoke Spanish. I was eager to see how her English-speaking doctors would communicate with her because I speak both languages and had never seen someone use an interpreter before.

Is Slapping a Band-Aid On It the Right Approach?

As I began preparing discharge documents for a patient, I noticed what seemed to be an unusual error within the patient’s profile. An INR level had not been drawn for this patient since their warfarin therapy was restarted two days prior.

America's Favorite Leftovers

Who actually likes to eat leftovers anyway? Most people I know do not particularly like leftovers, but I’d say most people like to keep their leftover medications. Why is that a concern? Keeping leftover medications can be hazardous. Taking medicine without proper guidance can be dangerous and access to medicines can put family members at risk for accidental ingestion. Also, the efficacy and potency of a medicine can be reduced over time and some medicines can actually become toxic if kept too long.


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