Evaluation of pharmacists' interventions at a university teaching hospital

Lynda M. Olson, Sheetal Desai, Marisa L. Soto, Shaida Namazifard, Amanda K. Quelland, Brian L. Erstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: The primary purpose of this pilot study was to help justify the positions of clinical pharmacists by identifying and describing the interventions most likely to have the greatest impact on patient care in terms of severity of medication-related problems and associated costs. A secondary objective was to identify potential problems related to data collection and cost estimation, to allow appropriate changes in documentation procedures for future data collection. Methods: All clinical interventions by staff pharmacists reported at a university medical centre during the period September to November 2001 were analyzed retrospectively. The focus was on interventions that prevented adverse drug events (described as very serious and serious on documentation forms). The cost impact was analyzed in terms of cost savings attained by shortening a planned course of drug therapy and cost avoidance achieved by avoiding adverse drug events. Results: Five pharmacists reported a total of 47 interventions. Approximately twice as many of the avoided adverse drug events were deemed serious as were deemed very serious. A substantial proportion of the interventions (21 [45%]) took approximately 15 to 30 min to perform. Order clarification and corrections and provision of drug information accounted for the most interventions (17 [36%] and 15 [32%], respectively). Approximately 60% of all interventions were classified as subtherapeutic dosing (10 [21%]), untreated disease states (6 [13%]), potential overdose (6 [13%]), and failure to receive drug (5 [11%]). According to published work on the cost of adverse drug events, the total cost avoidance for the 33 preventable adverse drug events reported by pharmacists in this study was US$84,631 and the cost-benefit ratio was 1.2. One of the problems noted in the economic analysis was the difficulty in assigning more specific cost figures to each of the interventions that was estimated to result in more than US$1000 in cost savings. Conclusions: Pharmacists can play an important role in preventing medication-related problems (particularly adverse drug events), and the interventions they perform are cost-beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Interventions
  • Medication errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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