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Pharmacy Team Helps Prevent Medication Errors

  • Category: LVMC Updates
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Chad Signorelli, PharmD
Pharmacy Team Helps Prevent Medication Errors

Lompoc Valley Medical Center has created a Medication Reconciliation Team comprised of specially trained pharmacy technicians whose job it is to ensure a patient’s at-home prescriptions are in sync with those taken while in the hospital.

This important team review helps the current healthcare provider understand and analyze the patient’s medication history and ensures he/she continues all their needed at-home medications. Another critical important task for the team is to prevent medication errors and drug interactions when old and new medications are combined.

The final reconciliation takes place when the healthcare provider determines what medications the patient should continue after they leave the facility, reviewing both new and old medications to create a final discharge medication list.

An important and vital piece of this task is the initial collection and entry of every patient’s home medications. It is the Medication Reconciliation Team, with its specially trained pharmacy technicians, whose job it is to accurately complete that function.

When a patient is admitted to the Emergency Department, they may be visited by one of our pharmacy technicians who will complete an initial interview and collect as much medication history information as they can. This information is then verified against historical data LVMC may have on file, as well as through a large pharmacy and insurance company database that houses patient medication history information.

If any questions arise, the team follows up with the patient or other sources. The Pharmacy Technician will utilize many resources to obtain a complete list, including community retail pharmacies, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, specialists taking care of the patient, or the patient’s primary physician.

Once the information is collected, it is then entered into our Electronic Health Record, where it is reviewed by one of our pharmacists and is available for physician review and reconciliation. This completed list will follow the patient electronically from visit-to-visit, so it can be reviewed and updated if they return to our facility at any time.

A pharmacy technician’s specialized training and experience in medication histories and usage make them the optimal team member to perform this function. The accuracy of the home list is of vital importance because it can guide a provider’s diagnosis and treatment decisions. The medication histories that our technicians have completed have helped to uncover hidden conditions that may have otherwise been difficult to uncover or taken longer to discover and have prevented adverse events or drug interactions with medications that may have been started during a visit.

There have been multiple studies done across the U.S. that have demonstrated the effectiveness of having a medication history program led by pharmacy technicians. A 2018 study reviewed 200 charts over a two-month period and found that a pharmacy-led medication reconciliation program decreased the number of significant, serious and life-threatening medication reconciliation errors upon hospital admission. Another study in the American Journal of Healthy System Pharmacy showed that a pharmacy technician medication history program can increase medication history accuracy and reduce medication-related adverse events. Having the program also allows nursing staff to spend more time taking care of patients.

To make the job of our pharmacy technicians a little easier, it is important for people to carry a current list of home medications with you or have it readily retrievable in the case of an emergency. Studies have shown that more than 25 percent of errors can be attributed to incorrect medication histories. But at LVMC, working together, our pharmacy technicians can help eliminate discrepancies and reduce adverse events associated with this often error-prone process.

At LVMC, our team consists of: Pharmacy Tech Melissa Cooper; Certified Pharmacy Tech Sarah Marshall; Certified Pharmacy Tech Lolita Hopson and Pharmacy Tech Dorothy Trejo.