Letter From the Editor
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues without an end in sight, it has become increasingly difficult to find reasons to celebrate. Emotions, beliefs, and reactions to this crisis are stronger than ever. There at the convergence of them all—hope and despair, tolerance and impatience, kindness and anger, altruism and selfishness, science and propaganda—are healthcare workers. They see both the best and the worst in humanity every day. One might wonder why anyone would enter or continue a career in healthcare right now. Yet many do because they still see the good, they still have hope, and they want to continue making a difference. Pharmacists are some of these people and today we celebrate them.
In honor of their work, we asked pharmacists and pharmacy students to share their patient safety manuscripts with us and our readers. Our guest editors, Michael Cohen, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), RPh; Daniel D. Degnan, PharmD; and Patrick McDonnell, PharmD, selected four manuscripts to feature in this special issue, Pharmacy Education and Practice.
Elkeshawi, et al. from Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Long Island University highlight medication safety risk to some of our most vulnerable patients: children and babies. They also share with us several of the advancements in the industry to help make the medication-use system for this population safer.
Fuentes, et al. from the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy share with the reader an inside perspective of the culture of safety that starts at the very foundation of pharmacy education and integrates with the healthcare system. A safety mindset established early in the education process sets a new pharmacist up for success throughout their career—and helps keep patients safer.
Bauman, et al. from St. Vincent’s Hospital remind us that previously identified safety issues, like inappropriate antibiotics, haven’t gone away. This study evaluated the antibiotic regimen of 492 emergency department patients and demonstrated that there is still room for improvement.
Mast and Li from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy present a topic that we may not know by name, although chances are we know someone who experienced it: immunization stress-related response (ISRR). The authors not only discuss common symptoms of ISRR, like feelings of apprehension and increased heart and breathing rates associated with receiving an immunization, but also share mitigation strategies that vaccination clinics and health systems can take to keep patients safe.
In addition to these four manuscripts, our guest editors shared through interview and commentary some of their own experiences and perspectives. Patrick McDonnell, a professor of Pharmacy who has spent nearly three decades at Temple University School of Pharmacy, spoke with our guest managing editor, Eugene Myers, about the pharmacy program and his biggest challenges and successes throughout his pharmacy career.
Michael Cohen, both the founder and president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), began advocating for safe medication practices in 1974 after learning about a serious medication event. Mike discussed with Eugene the importance of sharing information and the role of pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, Daniel Degnan, associate director for the Professional Skills Lab at Purdue University College of Pharmacy, shared with us that while the students he teaches are eager to learn and excited about their profession, they are also fearful of making mistakes. Knowing that some process and design issues may be out of an individual’s control, there are still steps individuals can take to reduce the risk of error. Just like developing safe (or unsafe) driving habits, we can also focus on and develop habits that keep our tasks safer in the workplace as well.
I want to thank Patrick, Mike, and Dan for leading this special effort. I’d also like to thank Eugene and the editorial team for ensuring we stayed on track and bringing it all together for our readers. And I’d like to thank the authors of this issue and pharmacists everywhere. Pharmacists across the country and around the world continue to demonstrate the meaning of teamwork as they keep showing up to help us overcome one of the biggest public health challenges of our lives.