In 1999, the IOM’s landmark report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, explored the impact of medical errors on clinical outcomes in terms of human lives.1 Importantly, recommendations from that report included establishing interdisciplinary team training and implementing an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to re-designing complex systems of healthcare delivery. Innovative and inclusive education and training were seen as critical for success because most care is indeed delivered by multidisciplinary, interprofessional teams of people, yet health care training is focused too often on individual responsibilities. In this series, we look at the importance of interprofessional care—and therefore, the continuing education needed to provide that care—in the management of specific disease states.


The Essential Role of the Hospital Pharmacist in the COVID-19 Crisis

pharmacistIn the blogs to be posted on this site, I will be focusing on the role of the healthcare TEAM in delivering optimal care to hospitalized patients.2–4 As often as I have the opportunity, I will be highlighting the potential role of the hospital/health system pharmacist. From my perspective as a practicing emergency medicine physician, I can tell you that one of the most dramatic improvements in patient care I witnessed in 35 years was the addition of the “Emergency Medicine Pharmacist” (EMP) specialist. These specially trained pharmacists provide invaluable assistance in the management of critically ill patients in terms of rapid procurement and appropriate use of resuscitative medications, provision of optimal antimicrobial therapy, disaster preparedness, and education. For patients who are less ill and are being discharged home from the ED on new medications, the EMPs complete medication reconciliation, screen for potential drug-drug and drug-diet interactions, and provide excellent education to our patients.

Recognizing this, we should as healthcare educators always strive to include pertinent continuing education for pharmacists in our courses and programs. The current COVID-19 health crisis provides an outstanding example of how hospital pharmacists, appropriate trained and empowered, can address many of the overwhelming healthcare needs of severely ill infected patients. I laud the letter of the American Society of Hospital and Health Systems Pharmacists (ASHP)’ to Vice President Pence, outlining the vital and comprehensive ways in which their members (full disclosure: I am a member of ASHP too!) can assist with the current crisis. See for other information on how our pharmacy colleagues can improve patient care in the hospital and at patient transition out of the hospital to home or to another care setting. As we develop educational programs for hospital-based providers, we must be sure to address the training needs of our pharmacy colleagues.


Dr. Pollack is privileged to serve as the Medical Director for AcademicCME,, a joint accredited education provider, where he is able to help develop innovative and engaging multidisciplinary, interprofessional programs aimed at improving patient care. This review of the importance of interprofessional education was initially developed by Michelle Yechout, lead medical writer at AcademicCME.


1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. (Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS, eds.). Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. Accessed February 23, 2020.
2. Leggat SG. Effective healthcare teams require effective team members: defining teamwork competencies. BMC Health Serv Res. 2007;7:17. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-17
3. Bridges DR, Davidson RA, Odegard PS, Maki IV, Tomkowiak J. Interprofessional collaboration: three best practice models of interprofessional education. Med Educ Online. 2011;16. doi:10.3402/meo.v16i0.6035
4. World Health Organization. Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice.; 2010. Accessed February 26, 2018.

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