Magazine article Drug Topics

The Value of a Pharmacist Risk Manager

Magazine article Drug Topics

The Value of a Pharmacist Risk Manager

Article excerpt

Recently, in a lecture before a group of pharmacy students, I asked them to imagine they had successfully graduated and were arriving at their first job. The new boss gives them their first assignment - to design a workflow plan significantly reducing the number of medication errors. The boss tells them the goal of their new plan for the pharmacy should be zero errors. The students and I then discussed how they could design such a plan and how valuable the students would be if they succeeded. I asked them how much more money they would be worth if they could set up a program that could stop just one $50,000 claim from occurring.

A trained, experienced pharmacist risk manager has real value. It is now possible for a pharmacist to receive that kind of risk-management training. Currently, a handful of pharmacy schools offer advanced training in risk management.

Within its Master of Science in Pharmacy program, the University of Florida is offering a part-time online major in patient safety and risk management. This master's level degree program is particularly designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and ability to develop comprehensive clinical risk-management and patient-safety programs. According to David Brushwood, program director for the University of Florida's Masters of Science in Pharmacy curriculum, the university was responding to student demand for a major in patient safety. "This major provides students with the opportunity to enter the growing field of healthcare risk management," he said.

Many states require pharmacies to implement continuous quality improvement programs as part of their prescription workflow. Even more states are considering such legislation. Within a few years, every community and hospital pharmacy in the United States will be developing, implementing, modifying, or using risk-management systems designed to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety. The demand for trained experts in the field of risk management will grow to meet the need. Their value will correspondingly increase.

As state boards of pharmacy realize that merely having a quality-assurance plan is not enough, the value of a trained risk manager will become more apparent. …

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