Magazine article Drug Topics

Late-Night Telepharmacy Service an Asset to Hospitals

Magazine article Drug Topics

Late-Night Telepharmacy Service an Asset to Hospitals

Article excerpt

A shortage of pharmacists, coupled with an abundance of medication mistakes in hospitals (a key contributor in an estimated 98,000 deaths, according to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report) has prompted MedNovations Inc. to launch PharmaCheck After Hours.

The telepharmacy service provides around-the-clock professional pharmacist call center support, including medication order review and order entry, to healthcare institutions.

Christopher Keeys, Pharm.D., MedNovations' CEO, explained the need for a system like PharmaCheck. "We saw that it was difficult for many facilities-particularly smaller hospitals--to budget and staff night pharmacies," he said. "Clearly, there is a professional need for competent night pharmacists that is not being met, and we saw the timing for PharmaCheck as critical, given the medication error data that exist."

PharmaCheck is instantly accessible to clients through a toll-free phone number and via the Internet or telecommunication lines. When nurses need to have medication orders reviewed or have a dosing question, they simply connect with PharmaCheck, whose pharmacists and technicians review the patient's medical history and check the medication order. MedNovations also assumes liability for questions it answers.

"The turnaround is very quick," said MedNovations' president Kenneth Dandurand, R.Ph., M.S. "Basically it is the same as having a pharmacist on staff at the hospital."

Currently, only one hospital-- Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.-has implemented the PharmaCheck system, with a few other hospitals in the process of finalizing contracts. Depending on the size and type of service requested, the PharmaCheck system can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000 per year. Currently, MedNovations employs five pharmacists and three technicians who provide services to Sibley from 11:00 PM. to 7:00 A.M., with the capability to provide 24-hour, sevenday-a-week support as more hospitals purchase PharmaCheck.

"PharmaCheck is often less costly for hospitals than employing an inhouse pharmacist, especially with the current shortage of pharmacists," Dandurand explained.

In the first few months since PharmaCheck was implemented at Sibley, Dandurand said the service has dispensed an array of drug information and caught a variety of dosing and medication mistakes. The service receives from 10 to 20 requests per night. "Nurses are very shorthanded these days," he said. …

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