Closeup pharmacist hand holding medicine box in pharmacy drugstore.
Organizational Procedure
Jul 15, 2024

In a previous article, I covered 5 key things that hospital pharmacy leaders need to know about medication safety [SEE: '5 Things You Need to Know NOW About Medication Safety']. Now, we need to put this into action. In this article, I’ll touch on 4 things to jump start medication safety at your organization!

  1. Review and share reported medication errors. I have a colleague whose career in medication safety started when she was asked to categorize medication errors as part of a modified work assignment (she was a hospital pharmacist back then) while she was transitioning back from maternity leave. She was only asked to categorize the errors but as she read through them, she started asking the question, ‘What are we doing about these errors?’ That was the impetus for the creation of a dedicated medication safety role at her organization. I cannot emphasize enough the power of these reported errors when they are reviewed AND SHARED! Bring awareness to what is happening to both those on the front line as well as leaders above you who can influence and prioritize resources to projects that will reduce the risk of medication errors.
  2. Utilize the Institute for Safety Medication Practices (ISMP) Newsletters. As a hospital pharmacist many moons ago, I was fortunate enough to be part of an organization that shared the ISMP newsletters with staff. It was eye-opening (and scary!) to read about medication errors that occurred at other organizations. It can also be overwhelming to realize how much risk exists! That said, don’t try to boil the ocean. Instead, identify one or two items each quarter (or even each year) that you want to address for your pharmacy or hospital and just focus on that. While some recommendations may require a heavy lift (e.g., a system enhancement to the organization’s electronic health record), others could be easier to implement and lead to small but quick wins.
  3. Assign small medication safety related projects to interested staff. As a pharmacy leader, remember that you do not have to do everything. Instead, as medication safety related projects arrise, leverage the talent, expertise, and interest from your staff. This is a win-win-win all the way around. The hospital or pharmacy benefits from the project, the employee is engaged and feels valued for being able to contribute in a unique way, and the manager gets something they has been meaning to address off their plate.  Standardizing a process (example: a process for unit dosing medications), creating a quick reference card/table (example: creating a laminated table of where certain medications can be infused based on unit), or redesigning an automated dispensing cabinet matrix drawer or tower to optimize efficiency of refills AND minimize look alike errors, are all very ‘doable’ by staff, with guidance.
  4. Hire a dedicated medication safety officer!  I strongly believe that every medical center needs a dedicated medication safety officer to set the medication safety vision, identify opportunities to improve the medication-use process, and lead efforts and initiatives to prevent medication errors. This simply cannot be another hat that a manager or director wears in addition to a multitude of other responsibilities on their plate. In a later article, I’ll provide insight into what to look for in a medication safety officer.
Pharmacy staff
Jul 16, 2024

Seven out of 10 pharmacies are understaffed1. When a pharmacy is understaffed, every aspect of the business suffers: employees become overburdened, lines are longer, and customer service deteriorates, resulting in patient and employee churn.

Does this situation sound familiar?

Pharmacist at computer
Jul 11, 2024

Children's National Hospital Division of Pharmacy boosted its pharmacy operational efficiency by merging datasets across its workflow platforms into a central data repository, from which many co-variables were then accounted for. With aggregated workload data from 180+ employees across 10,000 shifts, they implemented user-friendly dashboards, ensuring accuracy through collaboration. 

Pharmacy storeroom
Jul 05, 2024

Diversion management starts before a new staff member walks in the door. It is looking for red flags, even before any access to medications is given. It starts before any staff is hired and can be before an interview is offered. Most hiring managers assume that the human resources team is doing their due diligence to monitor for potential issues that may arise, but without asking questions and knowing the process, it is possible that expectations do not meet reality.

Executive Insights
Jul 16, 2024

Pharmacy Angle meets with John Hamiel, Regional Director of Pharmacy at Mercy Health, to discuss changes he's see in the industry throughout his career and the role of AI in the future of hospital pharmacies.

Executive Insights
Jul 11, 2024

Pharmacy Angle had the opportunity to interview Blake Powers, President at Medigi, discussing hot-button issues and how digitalization can benefit the pharamacy industry.

Executive Insights
Jul 05, 2024

Pharmacy Angle sat down with Louis Kynard, Director of Pharmacy at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, to discuss his experience developing both retail and specialty pharmacy teams, emergency preparedness, and lessons learned throughout his career. 

Executive Insights
Jun 25, 2024

Pharmacy Angle had the opportunity to discuss beneficial partnerships with Robert DiGregorio, Chief Pharmacotherapy Officer at The Brooklyn Hospital Center, and Allison Arant, Senior Vice President, Client Development & Market at Clearway Health.

Box of Kesimpa (Ofatumumab)
Jul 22, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – For people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study has found that the drug ofatumumab is more effective than teriflunomide at helping people across racial and ethnic groups reach a period of no disease activity. The study is published in the July 17, 2024, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Ofatumumab, a monoclonal antibody, is a newer drug for treating MS. Teriflunomide, an immunomodulatory agent, has been available for over a decade.

 MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks myelin, the fatty white substance that insulates and protects the nerves. Symptoms may include fatigue, numbness, tingling or difficulty walking. Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common stage of the disease, marked by symptom flare-ups followed by periods of remission. 

“Ethnically diverse groups, including Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, and Asian individuals, are consistently underrepresented in clinical trials, limiting the data available to help make the best treatment decisions for people in these groups,” said study author Mitzi Joi Williams, MD, of Joi Life Wellness MS Center in Atlanta and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study examined the efficacy and safety of ofatumumab in diverse populations. We found overall the drug was effective and safe across racial and ethnic groups.” 

The study was a post hoc analysis of two previous studies, meaning the researchers looked back at data already collected to more closely examine racial and ethnic differences. 

The study involved 1,882 participants, of which 3% self-identified as non-Hispanic Black, 4% as non-Hispanic Asian, 8% as Hispanic/Latino and 82% as non-Hispanic white. The remaining participants were classified as “other/unknown.” 

One half of participants received 20 milligrams (mg) ofatumumab every four weeks. The other half received 14 mg of teriflunomide once daily. Participants were followed for two years. 

Researchers examined disease activity. No disease activity meant participants had no new relapses with symptom flare-ups, no change in disability and no new lesions in the brain or spine detected with an MRI scan. 

Over the study, 33% of non-Hispanic Black participants taking ofatumumab had no disease activity compared to 3% taking teriflunomide. Among non-Hispanic Asian participants, the percentages were 43% and 22% respectively. For Hispanic/Latino participants, 37% and 19%, and for non-Hispanic white participants, 37% and 17%. The proportion of people treated with ofatumumab who had no disease activity was consistent among all race and ethnicity groups. 

Rates of experiencing side effects were similar for all groups.

 “Determining whether there are differences in how people respond to MS therapies is of great importance so that ultimately, each person is given the most effective treatment for them,” said Williams. “Underrepresentation of diverse populations continues to be an issue in research. Future studies should strive to enroll racially and ethnically diverse groups to better inform treatment decisions.” 

The study was supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the maker of ofatumumab. A limitation was that the original studies examined in this analysis were not designed to examine the efficacy and safety of the drugs based on race and ethnicity.

Business partnership meeting concept. Image businessman's handshake
Jul 19, 2024

BOSTON, MA — A new partnership between Boston-based Clearway Health, a company partnering with hospitals and health systems to build and strengthen specialty pharmacy programs and Baptist Health, a full-spectrum health system with nine acute care hospitals headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, was formalized to improve access to payor networks. Entryway into payor networks will aim to improve availability of prescription medications at more affordable prices.

Photo of Myogenica headquarters. A glass and mirror building facade
Jul 18, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL, MN — Myogenica, a University of Minnesota startup company, announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for an Investigational New Drug application for MyoPAXon — an induced pluripotent stem cell-derived muscle stem cell product to regenerate skeletal muscle. A pending clinical trial would evaluate the safety, tolerability and engraftment of MyoPAXon in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Young woman about to take a color pill
Jul 17, 2024

A recent multi-institutional study has uncovered troubling trends in opioid prescriptions for young patients undergoing surgery, with 1 in 6 youths filling an opioid prescription prior to their procedure. Even more concerning, 3% of these patients continue to fill opioid prescriptions three to six months after surgery, indicating potential opioid dependence.