Pharmacists on ward rounds speed up interventions and could save money, study finds

An Australian study has found that pharmacists’ involvement on ward rounds results in significantly quicker interventions for patients, and decreased length and cost of stay.

Hospital ward rounds

Pharmacist participation in ward rounds is associated with more timely interventions and potential cost savings, according to an Australian study published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
(24 October 2019).

The researchers set out to assess the impact of different clinical pharmacist activities, using clinical interventions as an indicator, to determine whether participation in multidisciplinary ward rounds (WRs) was an efficient and cost-effective allocation of time.

The observational study looked at clinical pharmacists in six specialty areas in a major hospital. For the four pharmacists involved in WRs and the two not involved in ward rounds (non-WRs), the researchers observed the activities undertaken, the time allocated to each task and spent performing clinical interventions, and the significance of these interventions and the associated costs.

Following 170 hours of observation and 267 clinical interventions (of which the majority were minor), it was found that the WR pharmacists spent almost a quarter (24.3%) of their time on rounds and 64.8% of interventions were made during this time.

Although both groups spent around 70% of their time on clinical and patient-centred activities, WR participation was associated with significantly quicker interventions. The hourly rate of interventions was more than three times higher than that of non-WR pharmacists and nearly three-quarters of interventions made on the round took less than one minute to complete.

Overall, major interventions in the WR group were estimated to have decreased lengths of stay, intensive care requirements and procedure costs.

“These results suggest that WRs are an opportunity for pharmacists to be actively involved in patient management discussions and the resolution of acute issues, and thereby impact significantly on patient care,” the authors said. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2019, Vol 303, No 7931;303(7931):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207264

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