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Project brings discharge medications to patients’ bedsides

Feb. 25, 2016, 9:08 AM

Josh Petrunger, Pharm. D., discusses medications with Sky and Laura Halverson prior to Laura’s discharge following the birth of the couple’s daughter, Caroline. (photo by Susan Urmy)

At Vanderbilt University Hospital, on a pilot basis, pharmacists have begun delivering discharge prescriptions and counseling to patients at the bedside prior to discharge.

The typical VUH patient leaves the hospital with three or four prescriptions. Under the new program, called Meds to Beds, discharged patients no longer have to stop at a pharmacy before going home.

According to Rusty Catlin, Pharm.D., manager of retail pharmacy operations, Meds to Beds has spread to approximately one-quarter of the hospital, and plans call for expanding to the rest of VUH by June. The program operates seven days a week.

“The pilots have gone very well. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from clinicians, nurses and patients, and we have other staff and faculty wanting to know when we’re coming to their area of the hospital. We’re trying to get to everyone as quickly as we can,” Catlin said.

Bedside discharge pharmacy services are becoming common in the hospital industry, Catlin said.

“We want to increase patient satisfaction and help reduce readmission rates. Published results show that having discharge medications delivered at the bedside, and taking time to counsel patients about prescriptions before discharge, helps reduce unplanned readmissions, especially those that result from patients not understanding their medications or not having their medications when they get home,” Catlin said.

Meds to Beds staff focus exclusively on delivery of discharge medications in VUH, and when the rollout is complete, the program is expected to employ at least five full-time pharmacists and 12 full-time pharmacy techs (several pharmacy interns also staff the program).

According to Catlin, VUMC pharmacy provides a number of medications that may not be immediately available from the typical community pharmacy. For any patients who may instead prefer to use their neighborhood pharmacy, VUMC coordinates prescriptions with community pharmacists prior to discharge.

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