Pharmacists can play a vital role in bridging the care gap for patients with cystic fibrosis according to the results of a new study revealed at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester.
Patients with cystic fibrosis typically take large numbers of medicines and are managed by healthcare professionals in both primary and secondary care. Most of patients' regular medication is prescribed by general practitioners, whereas complex and new treatments are initiated and provided through hospital outpatient clinics. Although it has been recognised that effective communication between primary and secondary care is important to ensure that patients receive the appropriate treatments, it is also recognised that this communication is often poor.
This new study, conducted by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, and Lloyds Pharmacy in Coventry, tested if community pharmacists, equipped with clinical information from secondary care, can bridge the communication gap and therefore optimise the patient's treatment.
Six community pharmacists were trained to conduct medication reviews for 51 patients in their own home. The pharmacists were given medical background information taken from the patient's hospital notes.
The results found that the pharmacists initiated 136 interventions. Of those, two-thirds (66%) were interventions which did not require referral to other healthcare professionals. These were classified as:
- A need for patient education, 86%
- Issues regarding patient decisions about whether or not to take their medicines, 10%
- Patients taking out of date medicines, 3%
The pharmacist interventions also resulted in 20 changes to GP prescriptions as follows:
- The drug formulation was changed, 75%
- A new drug was started, 10%
- The current drug was stopped, 5%
- The drug dose was changed, 5%
- Other (e.g. labels changed), 5%
Bettina Kluettgens from Lloyds Pharmacy said that the study proved the value of community pharmacists in optimising care for cystic fibrosis sufferers. "This study shows that home medication reviews led by community pharmacists can result in important and relevant improvements in patient treatment," she says.
"Community pharmacists recommended important changes to the prescriptions of cystic fibrosis patients," she continues. "On many occasions this was only possible because of the fact that hospital information had been available to the pharmacist."