Drug safety is one of the most crucial aspects of medical and pharmacy practice, specifically when it comes to approving new medications or considering the withdrawal of a certain drug from the market. It involves ensuring that patients receive safe and effective medications for their intended use.
Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the correct medications are given to the patients in the appropriate dosage and that they are educated about the medication’s potential side effects and benefits.
Role of pharmacists in ensuring drug safety
Pharmacists are critical in ensuring drug safety by preventing medication errors, counseling patients about using the medication, monitoring for adverse drug reactions and reporting any adverse events.
They are essentially medication experts who ensure that patients get safe and effective medication. Pharmacists also review medication orders and check for drug interactions. They can help prevent any medication errors by counseling the patients about medication use and encouraging them to ask questions about their medications. While monitoring for any adverse drug reactions, they can work with healthcare providers to manage the effects appropriately. They will also report any adverse event to the appropriate regulatory authority to ensure that it is documented.
Impact of adverse drug reactions
Adverse drug reactions are a major public health concern. They are unwanted or harmful reactions that happen after taking a medication. They can be mild, such as a rash, or they can be severe, such as anaphylaxis. It can even result in disability, hospitalization and death. Understanding the impact of adverse drug reactions is crucial for improving drug safety.
There are mainly three types of adverse events: dose-related, allergic and idiosyncratic. Dose-related adverse reactions are relatively common and can be characterized by essential amplification of the drug’s therapeutic effects. Allergic drug reactions are unrelated to dose-related adverse events but need previous exposure to the drug. Idiosyncratic adverse drug reactions are the ones that aren’t clearly understood and are largely unpredictable.
Monitoring these adverse reactions allows the prevention of risks associated with using a particular drug available in the market. Regulatory authorities can use the reports from pharmacists and doctors to identify any new safety drug problems.
Factors contributing to adverse drug reactions
Several factors contribute to adverse reactions to any drug, including patients, drugs and the healthcare system. It is important to understand these factors to improve drug safety.
Patient factors, such as age, genetics and gender, can contribute to adverse drug reactions. If a patient has an underlying condition, they may be at a higher risk for adverse events. For example, older individuals may be more susceptible to adverse reactions due to metabolism and kidney function changes.
Drug dosage, route of administration and drug interactions are some of the drug-related factors that can cause adverse reactions. A higher dose of medication can increase the risk of adverse reactions, as can the medication administration via certain routes, such as intravenous injection. Drug interactions can also increase the risk of adverse reactions by altering how the medication is metabolized or increasing the medication’s concentration in the body.
Healthcare factors, such as lack of patient education, inadequate patient monitoring and medication errors, can contribute to adverse drug reactions. Medication errors can occur at any time, from prescription to medication dispensing. Inadequate patient monitoring can contribute to not being successful in identifying any potential problems. And lastly, if the patients do not understand their medications’ potential risks and benefits, it can also contribute to adverse reactions.
How pharmacists can address the contributing factors
Pharmacists can play a crucial role in addressing factors that contribute to adverse drug reactions. They can identify patients who may be at increased risk for adverse reactions, such as older individuals or those with underlying medical conditions. They can also review medication orders for potential drug interactions and ensure that patients receive appropriate doses of medications via the correct routes of administration. Pharmacists can contribute to patient education on medication use.
To contribute toward making drugs safer, interested students can opt for certain school programs, such as the online pharmacy degree offered by an accredited university, like the University of Findlay. The Distance PharmD degree is a four-year course with didactic coursework and on-campus immersions to give you the best learning opportunities. In that program, you can gain the necessary skills in pharmacy practice through experiential learning.
Strategies for improving drug safety
Electronic prescriptions, barcoding and scanning, medication therapy management and patient education and empowerment are some of the strategies to enhance drug safety.
Electronic prescriptions will improve drug safety by lowering the risk of medication errors. Healthcare providers can directly send prescriptions to pharmacies, reducing the risk of errors due to illegible writing or incorrect dosage information.
Barcoding and scanning technologies can improve and reduce errors in medical dispensation. It will ensure that patients will receive the correct medication and dosage.
Pharmacists can review patients’ medication regimens under medication therapy management practices to detect any potential drug interactions, ensure correct dosage and identify if any patients require a medication change.
Patient education and empowerment will ensure that patients understand their medication, its benefits and potential side effects. Patients who are educated and aware of their medications are more likely to take the correct dose and even report any adverse reactions if they occur.
In the end
Ensuring drug safety is a vital component of pharmacy practice. The role of pharmacists in administering safe and effective medications to patients is of utmost importance. Comprehensive knowledge of the consequences of adverse drug reactions, the underlying factors responsible for them and effective measures to enhance drug safety are indispensable for improving patient health outcomes. By prioritizing drug safety in their practice, pharmacists can effectively mitigate the risks of medication errors and adverse drug reactions, leading to a substantial improvement in patient well-being and reducing healthcare costs.