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Clinical pharmacy

Emergency department pharmacists managing patients and taking on new roles, study finds

Pharmacists are taking on diverse responsibilities which support both patients and the wider emergency department. 

Accident and emergency department entrance of hospital


Research has found that pharmacists working in emergency departments are taking on clinical work that pharmacists have not done before

Emergency department pharmacist practitioners (EDPPs) are carrying out clinical work in hospitals that pharmacists have traditionally not done before, a University of Manchester study has found.

The paper explained that some of the activities being carried out by EDPPs include supporting patients with medical complaints and injuries, arranging social care and being designated care providers for patients.

The 18-month study is the first to define the role of pharmacist practitioners working in emergency care, according to principal investigator Daniel Greenwood, registered pharmacist and PhD student at the University of Manchester.

“There has been a lot of talk as to what pharmacists could do in emergency departments, and of the enhanced roles of pharmacists, but there has been little that is conclusive as to what they were doing,” he said.

He recruited 20 pharmacists with additional clinical skills training beyond a diploma from 15 UK hospital trusts to take part in the study. He then compiled data about their work caring for patients and supporting wider departments.

The research showed that EDPPs were the designated care providers for 232 out of 682 patients (34%), and took full responsibility for those patients who were in emergency departments. It also found that EDPPs performed clinical examinations of more than a third of all patients (38.7%), primarily of major systems such as respiratory, cardiovascular and abdominal.

The research also found that unlike nurse practitioners “who seemingly withdraw from their traditional nursing activities”, EDPPs “continue to carry out drug-focused activities to support both patients and the wider emergency department, which includes educating other staff”.

“Pharmacists are independently managing patients, and they are providing both traditional pharmaceutical care and new practitioner care,” said Greenwood.

Future research should “evaluate the EDPPs’ impact on quality of care, and how traditional and practitioner types of care can be provided efficiently side by side”, he said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205522

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