In a Blink

Popping her head in, the nurse urgently requested “Benadryl and Solu-Medrol –stat!” The pharmacist, recognizing the urgency of the situation, rapidly compounded the medications. Curious, I followed the nurse to the patient room and saw the unresponsive patient. Her face was white, yet her body was red and sweaty. Her blood pressure had dropped to an alarming 80/50. She was moaning, but not responding to questions. This patient, a kind lady in her mid-sixties, was the same patient I had exchanged pleasantries with a mere five minutes ago. How could her status change in a blink?

Safety During the Drug Development Process

Commercial drug development is a time-intensive, elaborate, and nuanced process that has held my fascination throughout pharmacy school. However, I have failed to realize how crucial a role patient safety plays during drug development.  At CMSA, I have learned that every minute detail of a medication is precisely engineered, from the drug formulation and appearance of the medication container to the drug’s brand name and where it may be stored at a pharmacy.

Communication and Trust

During my infectious disease inpatient rotation, I had the opportunity to hear a patient’s perspective after an adverse drug event, which showed me the importance of communication after an error occurs.

The Importance of Counseling Patients on their Medications

Throughout pharmacy school, we were taught the importance of using the teach-back method when counseling a patient on his or her medication. Personally, I thought this idea was idealistic but unrealistic. Community pharmacies are busy and pharmacists may often struggle to find time to talk to patients. However, I realized the importance of using this method during one of my rotations at a hospital based outpatient pharmacy.

Medication Safety at Summer Camps

I remember hearing about the opportunity to go to a camp for a rotation and immediately liked the idea. It was a week of hanging out with kids, doing camp activities, and then getting some time off afterwards. I knew that I would have a role in taking care of medications, but beyond that, I really had no idea what to expect.

Pharmacists and Medication Adherence

During my Forensic Diversion and Community Corrections rotation, one of my weekly tasks was to go to the County Work Release and perform medication counts. Work Release is a “middle-ground” facility between prison and home detention. Before entering Work Release, participants must turn in all of their medications, from over-the-counter products to controlled substances.

Ask one more question

Medication errors can happen anywhere at any time. One simple way to help prevent them from happening is to ask questions.

I was working at a retail pharmacy during a busy afternoon. We received a prescription for once daily 1000 mg metformin but the insurance would not cover it, so the pharmacist asked me to call the prescriber and ask if we could dispense metformin 500 mg twice daily.

Tripping Yourself Up

One of the most impactful medication errors that I witnessed was the first medication error where I did not catch my own mistake.

I was working in the inpatient pharmacy on a weekend. We were short staffed and I was running around the hospital like the Road Runner from the Looney Tunes. On my way from one unit of the hospital, I stopped in the pharmacy before heading to the next unit. The pharmacist was having trouble finding a certain medication, so I thought I would try to be helpful and found, what I thought to be, the right medication.

Making it Safe

It was a normal day in the retail pharmacy I work in as an intern when a patient came up to drop-off a new prescription from her doctor. I asked about how the patient was doing and how her day was going so far. The patient told me that she was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she was hoping these medications were going to help her. I empathized with her by expressing how overwhelming that must have been for her, and I told her to let me know if she had any questions about the medication because I would be happy to help.

Culture of Safety in the Classroom

The Purdue University College of Pharmacy is dedicated to patient safety both inside and outside of the classroom. Students in the College of Pharmacy are required to take a course on medication safety, and the university is affiliated with a center wholly dedicated to making “safe medication use common practice”. Changes made and advocated for by the center have helped patients and health systems, but what systems can be implemented to help students learn in a safe environment and ease the transition from student pharmacist to licensed practicing pharmacist?


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