Long-term care pharmacists not only have a responsibility to properly dispense medication, but they also have a responsibility to overall patient safety. While working to meet the medication needs of patients living in long-term care environments, such as correctional facilities, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities and hospice, long-term care pharmacists are working with complex patient populations that often require multiple medication regimens.
It is that environment that underscores the need for safety.
To ensure the safety of patients, long-term care pharmacies like UnitedRX follow certain protocols and procedures. Those procedures are aimed at ensuring safety for patients while acting as a stopgap to catch mistakes, or opportunities for medication improvements or adjustments, before the bottles leave the pharmacy. Experts suggest the following.
Make sure patients have access to medication.
More often than not, medications are offered by different manufacturers at different price points. Some prices can be exorbitant and therefore out of reach for a patient, creating an access challenge. Long-term care pharmacists may be able to find alternatives, with prices that align better with the budget of a facility or an individual patient.
Review regimens for appropriate use.
Long-term care pharmacists have the opportunity and the responsibility to review individual medication regimens to ensure that the drugs are being prescribed and used appropriately. If changes need to be made, due to the potential for dangerous interactions or inappropriate prescribing, the pharmacists can consult with the provider to determine the best path forward.
Relay proper medication information.
Especially in long-term care environments, pharmacists need to be mindful to relay the proper medication information to the caregiving team — whether it’s at a correctional facility, an assisted living community or some other residential setting. Patients will benefit most from their medication regimen when the entire caregiving team is informed on the safest and most effective administration of the medicine.
Work as a team.
Long-term care pharmacists are just one member of any patient’s caregiving team, which means information sharing between members of that team can lead to better outcomes for the patient, particularly when assessments are required. A long-term care pharmacist should stay informed on a patient’s health status to determine if any changes need to be made, particularly if there are any adverse reactions to medication.
Assist with transitions.
Patients in long-term care settings often experience transitions in their living situation, be it from a hospital setting to a rehab facility or from an assisted living community to one that provides more extensive care. Since long-term care pharmacists are the people who have access to a patient’s medication records, it is important for them to be involved in any transition of care to ensure the safety for the patient — as it pertains to prescriptions.
While long-term care pharmacists often work with caregivers instead of patients directly, it is still important that they encourage medication adherence and work with caregivers to find solutions should that become an issue. Medication is prescribed for a reason, and when a patient’s safety is at stake, it’s vital that pharmacists and the caregiving team work together to find effective solutions.
At UnitedRX, we deliver a hometown pharmacy experience to more than 350 clients across the country. Contact us to learn more about how our approach to treatment can meet the pharmacy needs of your long-term care facility.