By Terry McInnis, MD, MPH, CPE, FACOEM, president, Blue Thorn Inc.
In May, health care industry insiders and outsiders alike were stunned. A report announced medical errors are the third leading cause of death.
Me? I'm not stunned. Forgive me, but this is not news. We're coming up on 17 years since the release of To Err is Human, the Institute of Medicine's damning report on patient safety, and we still see similar headlines every few years. The fault lies with our uncoordinated system of care, with medications being the least coordinated of all.
Medication-related errors are a top preventable cause of serious adverse health events (including deaths).
The problem is far more nuanced and systemic than misunderstanding labeling or patient "non-adherence." Failure to treat conditions and appropriately dose medications, coupled with inadequate counseling, can be deadly.
Lack of a systematic and coordinated approach to medications has contributed to this crisis; the solution lies with the professionals who are experts in medications--pharmacists.
This solution, comprehensive medication management (CMM), is the subject of a report
released May 24 by Health2 Resources and my firm, Blue Thorn Inc.: Get the medications right: a nationwide snapshot of expert practices--Comprehensive medication management in ambulatory/community pharmacy
. It shows how pharmacists, as both medication experts and clinicians, are optimizing medication use in team-based care and making an impact on the communities they serve.Sponsored by a grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation, the report draws on responses from 618 practices across the country.
Clinical pharmacists working collaboratively with physicians and other clinicians can identify and fix a patient's medication-related problems. They ensure the appropriate, effective and safe use of medications. As a result, they improve outcomes and the bottom line.
This is not a test
We knew before our research began that CMM practices improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction while controlling costs. What this report shows is how robust and integrated these practices are. (Read the rest of the blog here.
Learn more about the report here.
The original study appeared in BMJ (Makary Martin A, Daniel Michael. "Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US BMJ 2016"; 353 :i2139)
Medication Errors, AHRQ Patient Safety Primer, March 2015