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SwedishAmerican pharmacy director sets framework for other hospitals

March 14, 2012

Staff Report

E. Thomas Carey, PharmD, director of Pharmacy Services at SwedishAmerican Hospital, recently returned from a speaking tour in Japan where he shared knowledge about an innovative approach the pharmacy is using to improve employee safety and achieve significant cost savings.

SwedishAmerican was an early adopter of PhaSeal, a “closed system transfer device” that was initially used to decrease employee exposure to hazardous medications prepared in the pharmacy.

Exposure to certain chemotherapy drugs can result in acute toxicities, such as skin and eye conditions, as well as an increased likelihood of reproductive issues and cancer (even though these are medications used to treat cancer).

The hospital discovered the device also could be used to prevent the waste of certain types of medications. SwedishAmerican conducted a study that proved the device was effective for this very purpose.

Specifically, we are mandated to throw out medication if we don’t use the entire contents of a vial,” Carey said. “For example, if a dose for a patient is 8 mg, but the smallest vial size is 10 mg, we would have to discard the remaining 2 mg. This is substantial in that these medications cost thousands of dollars. So, it begins to add up quickly. By using the PhaSeal Closed System Transfer Device, we can keep these vials around for a longer period of time and, therefore, prevent wasting the medication.”

As a non-profit hospital, SwedishAmerican is continually seeking ways to use resources as efficiently as possible. It has been able to achieve significant cost savings by using the PhaSeal device. Along with MD Anderson (University of Texas), Indiana University and Ohio State University, the hospital has provided the framework that all U.S. hospitals can follow.

As a result of the study, which was published in the November/December 2011 issue of The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, and being able to demonstrate the significant cost savings, Carey was invited to speak at several locations throughout Japan. These include the All Japan Hospital Association (Okinawa), Kobe Medical Center General Hospital (Kobe), and the National Cancer Center (Tokyo), among others.

SwedishAmerican is a not-for-profit, locally governed health care system with headquarters in Rockford. The health system is composed of two hospitals, 30 clinics, a home health care agency, a foundation, and has an exclusive affiliation with UW Health in northern Illinois.

From the March 14-20, 2012, issue

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