UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: ED Pharmacist

Keywords: toxicology, pharmacist (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/29/2011 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 4/12/2024)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

A growing trend in EDs is to have a dedicated ED Pharmacist present to assist with the evaluation of a patient's medication list, appropriate and safe drug administration and to improve drug delivery times. To date, it has been difficult for hospitals to determine if this was a cost-effective measure. There has been increasing research that has shown the proven benefits that physicians feel when they have an ED Pharmacist. With the aging population, increasing polypharmacy, core measure and national patient safety goals all rising to the top of hospital initiatives, the ED pharmacist will be proven to be a valuable cog of the ED - as UofMd already knows

1) Improved safety - this study showed an ED pharmacist caught 2.9 errors/100 medications, very important considering the cost of just one severe reaction can cause a hospitalization or even litigation(1)

2) Improved time to delivery of medication - this study showed improved time of delivery of medications not found in a Pyxis from 61 min with no pharmacist  decreased  to 47 min with ED pharmacist.(2)

Further studies will be needed to determine the true cost:benefit however with core measures like 6hr time to administration of antibiotics and the safe/timely adminstration of tPA combined with patient safety/quality goals - the value of an ED pharmacist will only be accentuated.


1 - Rothschild JM, Churchill W, Erickson A, et al. Medication errors recovered by emerency department pharmacists. Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Jun;55(6):513-21. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

2 - Owen KP. The role of the emergency department pharmacist in the timing of medication delivery. Clin Tox 2011. 49(6): 591.