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Pharmacy Consult Service gives patients peace of mind and the tools they need to thrive at home

Highest Quality, Safest Care

When we pick up prescriptions at our local pharmacy, most of us are accustomed to being asked if we have any questions about the medication. But what about patients who are sent home from the hospital on a new medication? At Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, pharmacists are available Monday through Friday, from 7:30 am to 3 pm to consult with inpatients on their new prescriptions. It’s a service that gives patients peace of mind and helps ensure patients being discharged can administer their medications safety.

Director of Pharmacy Services Brian Zikaras, PharmD, says the service is popular with patients. “The nurses here at BWFH do an amazing job educating their patients about their medications. But sometimes they are really pressed for time or the patient may need a little more support,” he says. “Our job is to supplement the teaching the nurses are already doing. Pharmacists can provide specialized teaching in order for a patient to feel comfortable once they get discharged. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce readmissions by arming our patients with the knowledge they will need to do well at home.”

Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Bethany Bersani, PharmD, says the majority of the patients she consults with need specialized training around their diabetes medications and blood glucose testing. “I see a lot of patients newly diagnosed with diabetes or existing diabetes patients who have been newly prescribed insulin,” she says. “For patients new to taking insulin, we can walk them through the process. We make sure they know what the medication is used for and what the side effects can be. We also bring up a practice kit so that they can learn how to draw up their insulin and practice giving an injection. This way they can learn safely.”

Bersani says, “Oftentimes, a patient just needs help making sense of things. They have just been told they have diabetes and they need to give themselves daily shots and test their blood sugar regularly, all on top of lifestyle changes. It’s a lot for them to take in. We can help them understand each piece of their diagnosis and care plan, as well as learn how to safely administer the medications they need so that they are not so overwhelmed.”

Zikaras says any doctor or nurse on the inpatient units can request a Pharmacy consult through Epic. If the request comes in after hours, a pharmacist will follow up with the patient in the morning if they are still in the hospital. They also do their best to work around the patient’s discharge plan so as not to hold up the process. However, Zikaras reminds staff to put in their consult requests early in the day to ensure a pharmacist has time to review the patients record and then provide the consultation. And once the patient has gone home, Zikaras says it’s important for patients to know about the resources available in their community. “We encourage them, after discharge, to speak with their local pharmacist if they have additional questions. It helps them to know that there is a resource in their community once they leave the hospital.”

The Pharmacy Consult Service is currently available to inpatients only. However, in the near future, Zikaras and his staff hope to begin offering the service to patients in other departments.

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