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    Pharmacists can lower readmissions with discharge counseling and housecalls

    Every pharmacist is a member of a healthcare team. Our primary purpose is to work with other healthcare team members; our shared objective is to ensure that the patient receives the best care we can possibly render.

    Unfortunately, this level of care is slowly diminishing, as a result of the “I don't care” attitude of many healthcare providers, including pharmacists, who have become so overwhelmed with the other things they have to do that they cannot devote proper time to the patient.

    The problem

    I became involved in making house calls when the high rate of hospital readmissions became a matter of great concern to healthcare facilities and the U.S. government.


    Pharmacist follow-up can reduce readmission rates of lower-risk Medicare patients

    Here’s the usual process. Upon initial discharge, the patient is given prescriptions, usually by a nurse, who says, “If you have any questions ask your pharmacist.” The obvious problem, of course, is that unless the patient, caregiver, or someone in the family is in a healthcare profession, they don’t know what questions to ask.

    Questions patients need to ask include:

    ·      “How do I take this medication?”

    ·      “When is the best time to take this medication?”

    ·      “Will these medications interfere with what I am currently taking [such as OTC, vitamins, herbals] or with any foods?”

    ·      “What side effects might I expect [especially with pain medications] and how can I minimize these effects?”

    ·      “Did the physician write as part of the instructions what the purpose of the drug is?”

    Robert Katz, RPh
    Robert Katz has been a working pharmacist for 40 years and is still passionate about the profession. You can e-mail him at ...


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