Good Samaritan Hospital Introduces Program to Reduce Medication Errors and Ensure Patient Safety

BY BARRY WARNER

Pictured are Dr. Ruth Cassidy, System Director of Pharmacy Services; Dr. Anthonia Ajoa, Clinical Pharmacist and Sandi Jeanette at WRCR Radio Rockland prior to the broadcast.

The recognizable blue and white ‘H’ sign of Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of the Bons Secours Charity Health System, often reminds patients and families that they can depend on this hospital for exceptional care.

Last month, WRCR Radio Rockland interviewed Dr. Ruth Cassidy, system director of Pharmacy Services and Dr. Anthonia Ajoa, clinical pharmacist about their new Medication Reconciliation and Patient Education program at the hospital.

According to them, the program’s aim is to address the challenge of poor medication management, which can affect a patient’s health, through a process called medication reconciliation.

Medication reconciliation is the process of comparing a patient’s medication list at the hospital to all of the medications the patient has been taking. The process involves a review of all the medication taken at home to determine if continued use upon admission or discharge is appropriate.

Typically, medications used at home by the patient continue during hospitalization, except in cases where the doctor determines them to be unsuitable.

“Many patients are confused about their medications and our objectives are to follow best practices that provide counseling and information about side effects to improve safety,” said Cassidy.

The process of medication reconciliation involves five steps. First a list of the current medications is built and then compared to a list of the medications that are to be prescribed to the patient. Next, the two lists are compared, and any needed changes are made. Then the finalized list is given to the providers, caregivers, and the patient.

“Reconciliation involves instructions of what medications to take, what not to take and suggests the use of a pillbox to organize the medications. Red bags are provided for older medications and green bags are used for current medications,” said Ajoa.

Since hospital serves such a diverse community, an interpretive service is provided for patients so they can listen to the medical instructions in their own language via telephone.

According to Ajoa, 20 percent of new prescriptions are not filled because of patients’ financial barriers. To combat this, the Bon Secours Charity System helps indigent patients with paperwork to obtain medications, which reduces the number of readmissions to the hospital.

A popular change has been the availability of pharmacists on the nursing units to review and enter medication orders. This provides the double benefit of saving nurses time, and giving the pharmacist a first-hand look at the orders to identify any potential dosing errors or drug interactions.

For questions about medications, call Good Samaritan Hospital at 845-368-5000 and ask for the Pharmacy Department. The service is free.