Consultation with a pharmacist cut both the death rate and the hospitalization rate from medication side effects.
Adverse drug reactions are judged to be the fourth most frequent cause of death in the USA, after heart disease, cancer and stroke. But a study, from researchers at the University of California, reveals that consultation with a pharmacist can help reduce this toll.
A group of patients were assigned to one of three models of pharmacist intervention. In the first, patients taking only high risk drugs, like warfarin, were offered consultation with the pharmacist. In the second, patients on both high and low risk drugs were given a ‘minimal’ consultation. In the third, patients only got a consultation if the pharmacist thought the patient really needed one.
Death rates from drug effects were eight per cent less among patients receiving consultation for a high risk drug, compared to those not getting a consultation. And among those on low risk drugs, the death rate went up if they did not receive a consultation. Hospitalizations were down three to five per cent for those taking certain high risk drugs. The study suggests that pharmacist intervention might be well worthwhile for patients taking any kind of medication.