By Judi Agnew and Betty Preston

Medication Management is an important component of health care. Research shows that having a pharmacist as part of a health care team results in better health outcomes, improved patient safety and reduced health care costs.

At Almonte General Hospital (AGH), the pharmacy team members work closely with physicians, nurses and other health professionals to ensure that patients receive safe, effective and appropriate medication therapy.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, regulated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists, make up the pharmacy staff at AGH.

As a patient is admitted, the pharmacist reviews the medications the patient was taking before they were admitted. During their stay, medications may be discontinued, changed, or added as a result of input and advice from the pharmacist, in consultation with the other members of the health care team.

Potential drug interactions and side effects are identified and resolved in collaboration with other members of the health care team.

A pharmacist attends weekly rounds, providing an opportunity to work with other health care providers to design, implement and monitor a plan that will produce specific therapeutic outcomes for the patient.

On discharge from the Hospital, a medication review and reconciliation is carried out with the patient and a member of the health care team. This important part of patient care ensures that changes, additions, and discontinuations are well understood by the patient and/or caregivers and family, contributing greatly to patient safety.

Pharmacy technicians are responsible for the safe distribution of medications. All individual patient medications are independently double-checked prior to being delivered to the patient care unit. Pharmacy technicians perform many functions, including purchasing and receiving, stocking patient care units, pre-packaging medication and expiry date management to ensure that patients receive high quality medication.

Pharmacists also provide drug information and education to Hospital staff and patients. The AGH pharmacy staff have input into the decisions of Hospital committees responsible for initiating and reviewing programs, policies, guidelines, and other tools to promote safe, appropriate and cost-effective medication use within AGH.

Together, the pharmacy staff member work with the rest of the health care team to build a medication system that is safe, effective and efficient.

Judi Agnew is the Manager of Pharmacy at AGH and at the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital. Betty Preston is a retired pharmacist, volunteer in the AGH Pharmacy Department and member of the AGH Board of Directors.