Impact of a clinical pharmacist in a multidisciplinary intensive care unit
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OBJECTIVES: To describe the activities of a clinical intensive care unit (ICU) pharmacist and to determine whether pharmacist-initiated consultations lead to changes in drug costs. DESIGN: Prospective, 3-month study. SETTING: A 15-bed, university-affiliated, tertiary care medical-surgical ICU. INTERVENTIONS: The following ICU pharmacist activities were recorded: providing drug information for physician inquiries; providing drug information for nurse inquiries; clarification of drug orders; drug accessibility information; pharmacokinetic consultation; detection and reporting of adverse drug reactions; and pharmacist-initiated therapeutic consultation leading to changes in drug therapy. When changes in drug therapy occurred, drug costs before and after the change were determined. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: During 54 weekdays, 575 pharmacist interventions occurred (10.7 +/- 5.0 interventions/day). The most common interventions were pharmacist-initiated therapeutic consultations (44.7%, 257/575 of the total), and response to physician requests for drug information (39.0%, 224/575). The most resource-intensive activities were provision of physician drug information and therapeutic consultations (49.6 mins and 35.9 mins per day, respectively). On average, 1.70 hrs (102 mins) per day were spent on all interventions. Therapeutic consultations decreased (47.1%), did not change (42.0%), or increased (10.9%) drug costs for a net savings of $10,010.60 (Canadian) over 3 months, or a projected annual savings of $67,664.24, if clinical pharmacy services were extended to 7 days/wk. CONCLUSIONS: Dedicated ICU pharmacists are crucial healthcare team members in a multidisciplinary ICU. In addition to substantially reducing drug costs, they provide continuity in individualized pharmacotherapeutic care, and serve an important educational function.
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