Pharmacy services to UK Emergency Departments: a descriptive study
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Objective To describe current hospital pharmacy services and facilities provided to United Kingdom Emergency Departments (EDs), identify potential roles for pharmacy technicians and possible benefits pharmacists may bring to the ED. Setting Emergency care specialist interest group workshop at an UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA) conference in 2004. Workshop attendance was open to pharmacists and technicians. Method A descriptive study using a voluntary self-completed questionnaire covering ED services, pharmacy services and facilities to the ED and potential roles and benefits. Results Of 40 questionnaires distributed, 31/40 (78%) were returned representing 25 NHS hospitals. Most (72%) EDs received some level of pharmacy service. Emergency Department skill-mix, ED service models and pharmacy services varied. Pharmacists’ current roles were similar across EDs, with input into guideline development and review 12/25 (48%), patient group directions 11/25 (44%), provision of training 11/25 (44%), provision of advice (general and clinical)/liaison 10/25 (40%) and drug history taking 11/25 (40%). Potential roles identified for pharmacy technicians included assessment of patients’ own drugs, support for drug history taking, stock management and drug storage. Further benefits pharmacists could bring to EDs included rationalisation of medicines on admission, identification of ADRs causing admission, support with complex medicine issues, new prescribing skills, supporting the maximum waiting time target and facilitating discharge. Conclusion Pharmacy services have developed to support service provision in EDs with similar roles to in-patient pharmacists. Pharmacy services in some EDs are now extensive with funded, full-time pharmacy posts but pharmacy service review is required to optimise ED patient care where there is limited or no current pharmacy input. New pharmacy services must fit with local ED service models and skill mix. Evaluation of these new services is vital to maximise benefit to patients and the NHS.
KeywordsEmergency service, hospital Medicines reconciliation Pharmacist Pharmacy service, hospital Prescriptions, drug Professional practice
Thanks are due to the UKCPA and the UKCPA emergency care group committee for allowing the survey to be conducted as part of the workshop.
Conflicts of interest
The authors are members of the UKCPA and Ursula Collignon is a committee member of the UKCPA emergency care group.
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