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Put me in the game, coach!
Kate Setzler 473

Put me in the game, coach!

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Association Perspective

Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FFIP, EVP and CEO of APhA

Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FFIP, EVP and CEO of APhA

September and October bring us into the most exciting part of baseball season. One can lament everything that happens in the major leagues through September 1st, but only what happens after September 1st really counts. Believe me, as a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball fan, we’ve had many September miracles lead to playoff berths. (This year isn’t looking so bright, though.) As an armchair warrior for my team, I often imagine how the game could be played better or what the coach needs to do differently—Maybe you do this, too?

While baseball is a fun game, patient safety is no game at all. In fact, it’s the most serious priority of our lives as pharmacists and pharmacy team members. Ensuring that the medication use process is—first and foremost—safe is the backbone of the Oath we’ve taken.

CDC’s Medication Safety Program reports that one out of every 250 Americans ends up in an emergency department because of a medication adverse event. Older adults are three times more likely to end up seeking emergency care for a medication issue than younger adults, with nearly one million total visits to hospital emergency departments occurring each year in the United States.

The result is approximately $3.5 billion in excess spending on the medical costs of adverse drug events annually.

Yet these statistics don’t fully capture the issues in patient safety. Frankly, physician office practices and hospitals are woefully understaffed, as are pharmacies.

Recently, a medical organization tried to make the argument that pharmacists shouldn’t be given provider status because community pharmacies don’t have enough staff to do anything other than dispense. This is like saying physicians shouldn’t be allowed to do procedures in the office because they don’t have enough medical assistants. It’s simply ludicrous. Taking away or denying access to care isn’t going to solve the problem of health care staffing. The problems are much deeper than that.

So, while organized medicine seems to be entirely focused on turf protection, pharmacy will press on addressing patient safety and access to care issues.

Health disparities exist because our current system doesn’t work. Patients have been denied access to care from pharmacists for far too long. Patient safety is suffering because, in part, of protectionist policies and hyperbole.

APhA is in the game fighting for frontline pharmacists. Our efforts in advocating with large pharmacy employers and state boards of pharmacy to empower pharmacists to meet the needs of our patients is important work. While our Well-being Index is beginning to show that distress at the pharmacy counter is improving, we’ve still got a long way to go. And progress to solutions will not be made simply by issuing criticisms. We must have viable solutions.

APhA’s Pharmacist Well-Being and Resilience Center is collecting data and collaborating with boards of pharmacy, pharmacists, and employers to address the system changes that must occur to sustain a positive, patient-centered environment across health care from the pharmacy counter to the bedside.

I have no doubt that some who read this will complain that APhA isn’t doing enough, and that they feel abandoned at the counter. It’s not enough to say what we are doing—you need to feel the results of change in your day-to-day. I get it. We hear you. And APhA is working on it. But we can’t do this work without members like you. Your ideas and solutions are critical. We are on the same team and working to ensure an environment that supports patient safety. We are for every pharmacist, For all of pharmacy. Won’t you join us? ■



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