Rapid-Response Teams Add Pharmacists--January 2009

January 15, 2009
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

Hospitals' rapid-response teams recognize value of pharmacists.

Some hospitals are taking notice of pharmacists’ vital role and reconfiguring their rapid-response teams to add them.

When Stanford Hospitals and Clinics in Stanford, California, formed its rapid-response team in 2006, each team had a physician, a critical care nurse, and respiratory therapist but no pharmacist, said Pharmacy Operations Manager Kathi Salmon Lucas. She said the teams were created in response to the 100,000 Lives Campaign, which was launched in 2005 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The goal of the teams is to intervene early enough to prevent cardiopulmonary arrest and subsequent death in hospitalized patients.

Lucas said the fact that pharmacists already participated in code calls at Stanford long before rapid-response teams were formed set the stage for adding them to these new teams. Pharmacists are now paged along with the other members of the team for adult patients. As with code calls, pharmacists participate in the patient assessments and can leave if their services are not needed.

Parker Adventist Hospital in Parker, Colorado, also has added pharmacists to its rapid-response teams. Samantha L. Glunz, Parker’s director of pharmacy, said the response team initially consisted of the charge nurse, an intensive care nurse, and respiratory therapist.

“We were regularly getting called to come consult after the fact or while they were doing their workup,” said Glunz. “So after we did our initial review of what the cases were and who has been participating on the teams, we decided it was important for the pharmacist to be a permanent part of the team.”

“We bring experience and knowledge of the medications,” she continued. “We bring a different perspective to the patient assessment.” She added that the team pharmacist can quickly retrieve needed medications from automated dispensing units, allowing the nurse to stay at the patient’s bedside during the incident.

Now that Stanford has seen the real advantage of having pharmacists part of the rapid-response teams, the hospital plans to expand them to the Stanford Cancer Center. “I think the value has been seen over here in the inpatient area, and so now the next step is to try to extrapolate it in the cancer center,” said Lucas. She pointed out that pharmacy participation is critical in this setting because patients are receiving complex chemotherapy regimens.

For other articles in this issue, see:

FDA Says Medication Guides Could Be More User-Friendly

Drug Interactions Higher Among Seniors

Growth in Rx Drug Spending Down…