The Cost of Safe Medication Use

Published: March 17, 2021
Mike Worsham
By Mike Worsham, DPh., MHA

Have you ever received a hospital bill and wondered why the medications you were given during your stay seemed to cost more than the same medications purchased from your community pharmacy?

There are many reasons for that. First, patients who are treated in hospitals tend to be sicker, often requiring expensive and intensive therapy for critical conditions.

The medications you receive in a hospital are also accompanied by a heavy dose of round-the-clock expert care. A dedicated team of physicians and pharmacists continually monitors and adjusts your medications to help you get better.

This close attention to how your body reacts to all the medications you are receiving is an important part of hospital care. The prescription drug warfarin is an example of the importance of monitoring. Although this is an inexpensive blood thinner, hospital patients who take warfarin daily must be monitored by a pharmacist to make sure that their blood doesn’t get too thin. Likewise, nonprescription medicines like aspirin can cause real problems when paired with other medications while you are hospitalized.

Patients who receive warfarin in ambulatory care settings need to be monitored as well, but probably not as often.

Finally, both community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists report adverse drug events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). An adverse drug reaction happens when a patient suffers an unexpected, unintended, or excessive response to a medication.

By working with the FDA on monitoring these reactions, pharmacists help other health care professionals improve their own medication dosing and prescribing. Pharmacists help make medication use safer for everyone.

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