URMC Pharmacy Department Earns National Best Practices Award

May. 4, 2009
Heart Attack Patients May Be Treated Quicker When Pharmacist is Involved

Having a pharmacist on the care team when a heart attack patient arrives at the emergency department can expedite the patient’s treatment and improve outcomes, according to an award-winning project tested at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Memorial Hospital. The innovative project, led by Emergency Department Pharmacist Nicole M. Acquisto, Pharm.D., earned the study team and Strong Memorial Hospital a Best Practices Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

The project, “Pharmacists Enhancing the Time to Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Patient Safety During Acute Myocardial Infarction Presentation to the Emergency Department,” was completed by reviewing charts of patients who came to the emergency department over a one-year period with heart attacks that required urgent treatment in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. Patient charts were separated so the patients who had an emergency department pharmacist involved in their care could be distinguished from those who did not. The groups were compared to look for differences in the time it took from when they arrived in the emergency department to when they received treatment in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, noting that when a pharmacist was part of the initial team caring for heart attack patients, time to get them to treatment and problems with medications such as errors or delays were significantly reduced.

Acquisto led a team of physicians and pharmacists in studying the effect of the pharmacist on these outcomes. The team included Pharmacists Curtis E. Haas, Pharm.D. and Daniel P. Hays, Pharm.D., Emergency Department Physicians Terry Fairbanks, M.D., Manish N. Shah, M.D., and Flavia Nobay, M.D., and Cardiologist Joseph Delehanty, M.D.

The team earned one of only six national Best Practices Awards presented in 2008 at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ Midyear Clinical Meeting. Acquisto’s entry was cited for innovation and outstanding leadership in health-system pharmacy. URMC implemented an emergency department pharmacist position in 2000 to improve quality and enhance patient safety. At the forefront of this trend, URMC’s ED pharmacist program is a national model and was instrumental in launching an Emergency Department Pharmacy Mentoring Program with ASHP in 2007.

This is the third Best Practices Award for the URMC Pharmacy, more than any other academic medical center or health care system in the United States.