Discharged patients to get drug counseling

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Hospital and the Marble Works Pharmacy are teaming up on a new program that will give newly discharged patients free, comprehensive counseling on their medication regimens. The goal is to minimize the chances of patients becoming ill as a result of not fully understanding dosage instructions or being prescribed drugs that might work against each other.
The new medication therapy management program is being made possible through a $31,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation. The foundation supports local, national and international programs that improve health care quality and build healthy communities. Porter was the only hospital in Vermont to win a Cardinal Health Foundation grant this year. In all, the organization awarded 38 grants adding up to $764,555.
Renee Mosier, pharmacy director for Porter Medical Center, was a leader in devising and pitching the new medication therapy management program. The need is clear, she noted, in quoting some statistics in a 2012 report by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy indicating medication errors harm an estimated 1.5 million people each year in the U.S., costing the nation around $3.5 billion annually. The report says that approximately 60 percent of the medication errors occur during times when the patient is transitioning into, or out of, the hospital.
Mosier noted Porter officials provide patients with written and verbal education about medication changes during hospitalization. But the day on which a patient leaves is often a busy one and might not be the best time for a recovering person to fully absorb the medication info that is being provided.
Porter Hospital has done considerable work in recent years to assist patients with medication management, Mosier added.
“We have made a lot of changes, put together multi-disciplinary committees, retrained staff to ramp up medication reconciliation in-house, but we were feeling like there was still a missing piece,” Mosier said last week. “We saw instances of patients being discharged having a really good med list and a really good plan, but if that plan wasn’t communicated to the community pharmacy, then it fell off, and maybe something that should have been discontinued accidentally got refilled. We recognize that the community pharmacist is a resource to the patient that has face-to-face time with the patients all the time. We wanted to pull them into the work we had been doing.”
The grant funding will be used to reimburse Marble Works pharmacists’ time in counseling patients about their medication lists. Those sessions might last up to an hour, according to Mosier, and include some follow-up. Patients who do business at Marble Works Pharmacy will be offered an appointment with a pharmacist within a week or so following discharge from the hospital. Patients that aren’t currently using Marble Works as their primary pharmacy will be asked if they would like to have a Marble Works pharmacist schedule an appointment.
The pharmacist will conduct an in-depth review with the patient about their medication regimen to potentially adjust the list of medications (in consultation with Porter) to ensure no extraneous or counteracting drugs are in play.
Mosier said the new program is expected to last 12 months “or as long as there is still money in the pot.” Porter will be able to reapply to the Cardinal Health Foundation and/or other organizations for grants to continue the program into future years.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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