From the category archives:

RPh on the Go

Study Changes Ann Arbor VA Pharmacy Practice

by pharmacy on April 30, 2010

A recent study conducted at four VA hospitals found that direct pharmacist interaction dramatically increased the rate at which patients successfully took multiple medications. The study involved 118 patients who all had a mental health diagnosis and prescriptions. Several also had additional conditions “such as hypertension or diabetes” in addition to the mental health diagnoses. The patients each took an average of 14 medications throughout the day.
The pharmacist first packaged all the medications in blister packs to make it easier for the patients to keep organized. She also conducted medication and packaging education sessions for the patients enrolled in the program. Finally, the patients were all mailed refill reminders prior to their refill dates and physicians were alerted for those who failed to refill the prescriptions 7 to 10 days past their schedule.
The patients who were enrolled in the program showed dramatically higher rates of compliance with their medication schedules. On average, the patients had medications on hand 91% of outpatient days during the first six months of the program. This compares to a rate of 62% of those not in the program. As a result of the program the VA hospital in Ann Arbor and four other VA facilities have made the program a permanent part of patient care.


A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics concluded that translated prescription labels often contain serious errors. The study took place in New York where pharmacies are required to translate labels into any of the seven most commonly spoken languages in the city. The translation law was implemented in 2009 since nearly half of the population of New York speaks a language other than English at home.
The study reported that almost 90 percent of pharmacies use computer programs to translate the medication labels for consumers. The remainder use employees and a very small percentage use professional interpreters. Of those using the computer programs, several sample labels used in the study were found to contain serious errors. The most potentially dangerous error was a common translation of the term “once a day” into Spanish that read “eleven times a day”.
So far one case has been reported of a man who took his blood pressure medication eleven times in one day rather than just once. The authors of the study suggested improvement of the computer translation program as well as a mandatory review by pharmacy personnel to catch any errors before patients pick up their prescriptions.,2933,590762,00.html


Pharmacists Asked to Eye Mefloquine Prescriptions

by Toby Roberts on October 12, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an announcement to pharmacists regarding a recent number of Mefloquine prescriptions that have incorrectly instructed patients to take the 250 mg dose daily rather than weekly. Mefloquine is prescribed to treat malaria prophylaxis for individuals traveling abroad. [click to continue…]


Heading back to where I started

by Cyrus on September 4, 2009

The advantage of being a traveling pharmacist is the ability to make your own schedule. I think the last time I actually took a personal vacation was over a year ago. Of course, it was my own set design and not because I wasn’t allowed to take a vacation.

Of all places I choose to go was to Rapid City, South Dakota. It was my very first state that I worked as a traveling pharmacist back in 2000. The facility was on an Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital/clinic in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. The hospital was relatively small servicing a community of the Lakota tribe (Sioux Indians). I took a 4 hour ride from Rapid City to Eagle Butte to visit the facility, and to my surprise, the town has not change a bit. In fact, the same locally employed technicians that I worked more than 9 years ago are still working there. [click to continue…]


Walking over to the fountain of youth

by Cyrus on August 19, 2009

Hello, my fellow readers. I have been away for several weeks doing volunteer talk to our senior citizens around the greater metro-Orlando area. I have been doing this for quite some time and it is a great opportunity to give back to my community. This speaking tour started seven years ago when an elderly man, who attended one of my talks about medications in New Jersey, bumped into me at a local grocery store in Florida, where we now both lived. He thanked me for a talk about blood pressure medication (more than 10 years ago) at his church and asked me if I was willing to do the same again at the senior centers in Orlando. I obliged and prepared my talk. Well, instead of a one-day talk, it continued for the next several weeks after work at various location in the greater Orlando area. [click to continue…]


Recession-proof pharmacists

by Cyrus on July 2, 2009

Being a pharmacist means you will remain in demand for decades to come. It is a profession that is recession-proof and will remain viable as along people need medicine. I have looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it stated that employment among pharmacists will grow by 22% through 2016. It is considered the fastest rate of employment among most occupations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of May 2008, the average annual salary of pharmacists is $104,200. I can remember working as a pharmacist right after college making $35,000/year. I can’t believe how far we have progressed. As my father has always said, “You will never starve as a pharmacist.” Thanks dad, you were right!

We had a national shortage of pharmacists back in 2001. This was due to changing the curriculum from BS Pharmacy to the Pharm.D program. Pharmacy colleges weren’t producing enough pharmacists to meet the demand. Presently, we are meeting the demand, but there are still shortages depending on location around the United States. With the growing influx of prescriptions needing to be filled and more Americans living longer, the demand for pharmacist will always be needed to provide that service.

In President Obamas proposed health care reform, it stresses a team-based approach to care. I have seen working at several VA hospitals where primary care doctors are teamed up with the pharmacist to increase better patient care. I have seen pharmacist increasin g their role in providing immunizations, pain management, and doing blood monitoring for patient taking blood thinners. With this faltering economy, I have seen many patients seeking a pharmacist for free advice instead of spending money for an office visit with their doctor.

We are in an exciting time for our profession. It is not only counting pills by five, it is an ever evolving dynamic profession that is being interweaved with other healthcare professions. I have always believed that we are a very highly educated profession, but the least utilized. But with the advent of people living longer and high level of stress among doctors, I see a glimmer of light that our education will be fully realized.

Cyrus Pacis is a pharmacist who often works on long-term relief pharmacy jobs through RPh on the Go.


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