Angela Su Wins AFPE Gateway to Research Award

The American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) has presented the prestigious AFPE Gateway to Research Award to UConn School of Pharmacy student Angela “Ange” Su (Pharm.D. ’24).

Angela Sun

The Gateway to Research Award enables Bachelor and Pharm.D. students to participate in a research project supervised by the faculty. The scholarship allows students to gain an understanding of the importance of research by enabling them to apply knowledge to enhance their clinical skills.

Su will partner with Marie Smith, Pharm.D., FNAP, Assistant Dean for Practice and Public Policy Partnerships, and Dr. Henry A. Palmer Endowed Professor at the UConn School of Pharmacy – Department of Pharmacy Practice. They answered our questions below:

Research Project: A healthcare team’s interdisciplinary perspective on improving medication matching processes in the emergency department.

Research Objective: Identify process and system inefficiencies in medication reconciliation in the ED that may contribute to adverse drug events and avoidable hospital admissions, and (2) incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives to improve medication reconciliation processes in the ED to improve patient medication safety.

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Through a survey and focus groups, we will collect data to identify potential problem areas in the current medication matching processes in the ER of 2 hospitals. The participants in the study are several healthcare professionals and staff involved in medication matching in the emergency room – including nurses, prescribers (i.e. nurses, physicians and physician assistants), pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and interns and their managers. We expect our results to paint a picture of where the biggest problems lie in the current medication matching process and make suggestions for process improvement. Our goal is to identify workflow inefficiencies, improve patient medication safety, and avoid unnecessary doctor visits or hospitalizations due to adverse drug reactions.

Why was this study ultimately selected for this prestigious award?

There are two main aspects of the research study that caught the eye of the award selection committee:

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1. the issue of medication matching workflow in emergency departments has not been fully explored, and

2. The study includes the perspectives of multiple healthcare professionals, staff and managers responsible for medication reconciliation processes and medication safety.

What is medication reconciliation?

A patient may come into the emergency room with a bag full of medications or with a list of multiple medications they take at home. Medication reconciliation is a process to ensure that a patient’s medication list is as current as possible. This list should include all medications the patient takes at home – prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, dietary supplements – from multiple prescribing physicians and multiple pharmacies.

Once this comprehensive medication list is established, there is a process to resolve any discrepancies between the patient’s home medication list and the lists in the patient’s medical, hospital, or pharmacy records. Performing a medication reconciliation can vary greatly in different emergency departments and there are often opportunities to improve the process. This is especially true as ED medication matching workflows are urgent and rely on coordinated communication between multiple healthcare professionals.

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By incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives, we are able to identify areas for workflow and process improvements to avoid adverse drug events and medication errors, as well as unnecessary hospitalizations associated with such drug therapy issues.

How does this research play out in the larger world of pharmacy outside of school?

It is estimated that adverse drug events cause approximately 1.3 million emergency room visits and 350,000 hospital admissions each year. Therefore, it is important that patients in emergency departments receive a thorough medication review before receiving treatment or being admitted to the hospital. Because emergency rooms are such busy places, we want to explore how we can ensure that the medication review workflow is efficient and effective to ensure safe medication use.

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