About the Pharmacy
Behind the scenes at Greenwich Hospital, more than 40,000 inpatient medication orders are processed every month by our Pharmacy Department’s professional staff. Each order is reviewed to make sure the medication and dosage is appropriate for each patient.
Licensed pharmacists are here 24/7 and are part of the caregiving team. As drug experts and educators, they listen to patients’ medical history and teach them about their current medications. They also team with the medical and nursing staff to assure patients are receiving the most effective and economical drug therapies.
Our pharmacists are community resources, too. They provide valuable information on drug alternatives and are knowledgeable about programs for those needing financial help to pay for the medications they need.
What is medication reconciliation?
Medication reconciliation is the process of comparing a patient's new medication orders to the medications the patient is currently taking. Pharmacists do this to help make sure patients get all the medications they need and to avoid duplications, dosing errors and drug interactions.
Every time a patient experiences a transition at the hospital – whether it is on admission, with a new doctor, a room change or a new level of care – medication reconciliation takes place. Patients also receive an updated list of the medications they should continue to take when they leave the hospital.
“Smart Systems” protect patients
Greenwich Hospital uses a computerized system to help assure the right drugs are delivered to the right person at the right time. It starts with the physician, who can log on to any computer in the hospital, pull up their patient's profile and enter medication orders, lab orders and other pertinent information. Because they are typed, not handwritten, electronic orders are easier to interpret and reduce the time it takes for the pharmacist to fill. They also reduce the risk for error and increase patient safety.
Each newly prescribed medication is verified against the patient's overall drug regimen. It is also checked against any known allergies or other conditions that could interfere with their current drug therapies. If the pharmacy identifies the possibility of an interaction or other issue, it will consult with the physician. If there are no safety issues, and the drug is part of the hospital's formulary, the medication is made available immediately.
Formulary medications are pharmaceutical substances that the hospital regularly keeps on hand. They are stocked in locked dispensers, similar to vending machines, in each patient care area. Approved prescriptions are released electronically to the patient's nurse, via computer, so the patient can get them without delay.
If a non-formulary specialty drug is needed, the pharmacy staff will use its resources to obtain it. In some cases we will compound it by hand. An example might be a pain reliever or anesthetic that is custom-mixed for an individual patient. Likewise, all chemotherapy drugs are made under special protective conditions in the pharmacy. Each one is a recipe based on the patient's height, weight, body surface area and kidney function.
Medication lessons at bedside
Greenwich Hospital’s pharmacy constantly updates its knowledge bank. The team includes a clinical pharmacist who researches new drugs, reviews how drugs are used in the hospital and provides expert opinion to the medical staff.
Our pharmacists often visit with patients who would like more information on the drugs they receive. Pharmacists can offer important details on how specific drugs work. They also can help ensure that patients comply with their individual drug therapies.
Patient Tips for Medication Safety
Greenwich Hospital strongly believes in the importance of working with patients and families to keep patients safe. Some tips for staying safe in the hospital include:
- Do not bring medications (even over-the-counter) from home to the hospital unless approved by a physician.
- Ask questions of the doctors, nurses and pharmacists about medications you are given and write down (or have your caregiver write down) specific instructions you receive.
After Patient Discharge
Greenwich Hospital pharmacists will also meet with family caregivers to help patients stay on track with medications once they are discharged. Pharmacists can answer questions such as whether a certain pill can be crushed or not, taken with food or on an empty stomach, or even whether a less expensive alternative medication can be taken instead.
Learn more about all aspects of planning for discharge from Greenwich Hospital