Magazine article Drug Topics

Fingertip Medicine

Magazine article Drug Topics

Fingertip Medicine

Article excerpt

The California State Board of Pharmacy earlier this month started implementing a regulation that will allow pharmacies to prepare emergency drug kits for home health-care agencies and hospices. This ruling is intended to benefit patients receiving high-tech parenteral therapies in alternate sites.

Larry Rolston, executive director of the Home Infusion Therapy Coalition of California, which has been pressing for such a regulation for three years, believes that the emergency kits are practical and cost-effective. "The regulation improves the safety of the home patient population and offers economic advantages by allowing immediate treatment to prevent more serious complications," he said. Rolston was instrumental in getting the regulation passed.

Home health-care providers will no longer have to rush to the pharmacy for emergency drugs. They will now have such resources at their disposal, saving time and maybe even lives.

Former regulations required all medications carried by home care nurses to be labeled for a specific patient. The new regulation allows R.Ph.s to provide nurses with the basic drugs needed to treat emergency situations related to parenteral therapy in the home. These emergency drugs not only alleviate serious medical complications but also reduce associated costs. "Often, home health-care providers are called upon in the middle of the night because catheters have become clogged. If a nurse can flush the catheter using the emergency kit, he or she will have saved the patient the trauma and the $2,000 to $3,000 expense of replacing it," said Rolston. "This regulation clearly offers patients medical and economic advantages."

Dave Golman, Pharm.D., general manager and director of pharmacy at LifeCare Solutions, assisted Rolston in writing the regulation. As a pharmacist for San Diego-based LifeCare, which provides home nursing, home infusion, and hospice care, Golman knows how emergency situations affect pharmacists. He believes this regulation will benefit pharmacists, home care providers, and patients alike.

"Pharmacists will no longer be called out in the middle of the night just to dispense something as basic as a vial of saline. Home care nurses will now be able to remedy the situation immediately, reducing the chances of the patient's having to be admitted to the hospital," said Golman. The regulation also legitimizes what many pharmacists have been practicing for years."

Home health-care agencies and hospices must submit a list of policies and procedures to the furnishing pharmacy. …

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