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Hospital Pharmacy Makes Patient Safety and Education Top Priorities 
           Behind the scenes at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, more than 9,000 inpatient medication orders are processed every month by the Pharmacy Department's staff of five pharmacists and four technicians. Each order is verified, which means each newly prescribed medication is verified against the patient's overall drug intake, any known allergies, or other contraindications.

At St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians provide invaluable contributions to patient care by reviewing medications for safety and efficacy, and providing information and education for effective medication management. Pharmacists are experts on drug therapy and are the primary health professionals who optimize medication use to provide patients with positive health outcomes.  The experience of the pharmacists at St. Francis range from two to 35 years. The pharmacy is open seven days for a total of 86 hours per week, with a pharmacist on call during the intervening hours.

“All of our pharmacists and technicians are integral in providing safe and effective medication management services at the hospital,” says Nancy Lawyer, RPh, director of Pharmacy. “In addition to hospital inpatients, we supply anticoagulation monitoring  services to some of nursing homes in the area and consultative services to hospice, swing bed, and discharged patients on a regular basis.”

Pharmacies within hospitals differ considerably from community pharmacies. Some pharmacists in hospital pharmacies may have more complex clinical medication issues whereas pharmacists in community pharmacies often have more complex business and customer relations issues. 

Hospital pharmacies usually stock a larger range of medications, including more specialized medications, than would be feasible in the community setting. Most hospital medications are unit-dose, or a single dose of medicine. Hospital pharmacists and trained pharmacy technicians compound sterile products for patients including total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and other medications given intravenously.

“Medication safety is what drives our pharmacy staff to respond to the ever-increasing need for educational opportunities and to embrace the latest innovations that can help to avoid giving the incorrect drug and/or the incorrect dose to our patients,” Lawyer says. Over the past few years, the St. Francis pharmacy has undergone several changes in their technologies and practices to include:

  • Automated dispensing devices on the nursing units allow for broader range of medications available to nursing staff while streamlining billing. 
  • The staff utilize  barcode scanning for medication refill activities to the automated dispensing cabinets to reduce the likelihood of incorrect medication selection.
  • Internal storage procedures for “look alike, sound alike” drugs and high alert medications. Using different colored, lidded containers and “tall man” lettering to reduce likelihood of drug selection errors.
  • Recent remodeling was completed to renovate the IV area to meet requirement of USP Chapter 797 regarding sterile compounding.
  • Two pharmacists provide coverage at the anticoagulation clinic (more commonly known as the Coumadin Clinic) which sees over 240 patient visits per month.
  • Patient educational consultations such as interviewing orthopedic patients prior to surgery to obtain the most accurate list of medicines and provide information on new medications and discussing medication management with diabetic patients in the Diabetes Self-Management Treatment program.

Medications can save your life, but they can also cause great harm if not taken properly.  To learn more about the medication safety or for a pharmacology consultation at St. Francis, please call 660-562-7925.

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