The contribution of a clinical pharmacist to the improvement of medication at a geriatric hospital unit in Norway
The aim of the study was to use a clinical pharmacist in order to improve the medication of patients in a geriatric hospital unit. The hospital had no experience of using a clinical pharmacist before.
Methods: A clinical pharmacist participated in the therapeutic team for 27 days during a 4-year period. Drug-related problems were recorded prospectively and discussed before and at the ward round. The results of the physician’s decisions on the current day about potential changes in medication proposed by the pharmacist were continuously recorded.
Results: The pharmacist evaluated the medication of 250 patients. At least one drug- related problem was found in 188 (75%) of the patients. For these patients, the physician made 606 decisions concerning potential changes in the medication (3.2 per patient). Thirty percent (184/606) of the decisions were connected to further measurements and to the follow-up of laboratory results, mainly (82%, 151/184) for cardiovascular drugs. Forty-two percent (255/606) of the decisions resulted in the discontinuation of drugs, dosage reduction or a decision to revise the assessment at a later stage during hospitalisation. Medicines with anticholinergic adverse effects were to a great extent withdrawn. Twenty-one percent (129/606) of the decisions were made on drugs with an addiction potential: hypnotics, anxiolytics, as well as analgesics containing tramadol and codeine. The result was often (71%, 91/129) dosage reduction, a change from fixed medication to medication on demand or to discontinuation.
Conclusion: Even with a modest participation of once a month, the evaluation of a patient’s medication by a clinical pharmacist led to improved changes and the follow-up of the medication of the elderly.
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