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4 Types Of Hospital Pharmacy and Their Benefits

A hospital pharmacy is a department within a hospital that is responsible for the procurement, storage, preparation, and dispensing of medications to patients within the hospital. The hospital pharmacy is typically staffed by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to ensure that patients receive safe and effective medications.

In addition to dispensing medications, hospital pharmacies are also responsible for managing medication orders, reviewing patient medication histories to identify potential drug interactions or adverse effects, and providing education to patients and healthcare providers on medication use and safety. Hospital pharmacies also play an important role in medication management for patients who are discharged from the hospital, including providing medication counseling and coordinating medication refills with community pharmacies.

The history of hospital pharmacy dates back to ancient times when physicians and priests dispensed medications to patients in hospitals. However, the modern concept of a hospital pharmacy as a dedicated department within a hospital emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the United States, the development of hospital pharmacies was influenced by the Flexner Report of 1910, which called for higher standards in medical education and emphasized the importance of pharmacists in patient care. As a result, hospitals began to establish dedicated pharmacy departments staffed by licensed pharmacists.

During World War II, hospital pharmacies played a critical role in the development of antibiotic therapy, which was essential in the treatment of wounded soldiers. This led to increased investment in hospital pharmacy research and education, which in turn resulted in the development of new pharmaceutical products and improved medication management practices.

Today, hospital pharmacies continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of patients and healthcare providers. Advances in technology have led to the development of automated dispensing systems, electronic medication ordering and record-keeping, and other innovations that help to improve medication safety and efficiency.

Types Of Hospital Pharmacy

Hospital pharmacies can be broadly categorized into three types: inpatient, outpatient, and specialty.

1.      Inpatient Pharmacy: An inpatient pharmacy is located within a hospital and is responsible for providing medications to patients who are admitted to the hospital. The pharmacy team works closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurses, to ensure that patients receive the medications they need. Inpatient pharmacies typically use automated medication dispensing systems, such as unit-dose or modified unit-dose systems, to prepare and deliver medications to patients. Inpatient pharmacies also manage medication storage, inventory, and medication reconciliation.

2.      Outpatient Pharmacy: An outpatient pharmacy is located outside of a hospital and is responsible for providing medications to patients who are not admitted to the hospital. Outpatient pharmacies can be independent or part of a hospital system. They typically dispense medications to patients who are receiving treatment in outpatient clinics, such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Outpatient pharmacies also provide medication counseling and education to patients.

3.      Specialty Pharmacy: A specialty pharmacy is responsible for providing medications for patients with complex or chronic conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Specialty pharmacies provide medications that are typically expensive and require specialized handling and storage. They also provide patient education and support services, such as medication counseling and adherence programs. Specialty pharmacies can be independent or part of a hospital system.

In addition to these three types of hospital pharmacies, there are also other specialized pharmacy services that can be provided within a hospital setting. These include clinical pharmacy services, such as medication therapy management and drug utilization reviews, and pharmacy compounding services, which involve the preparation of customized medications based on a patient’s specific needs. Hospitals may also have pharmacy residency programs to train pharmacists in specialized areas of pharmacy practice, such as critical care or oncology.

Benefits of Hospital pharmacies

There are several benefits to having a hospital pharmacy, including:

1.      Improved medication safety: Hospital pharmacies play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive safe and effective medications. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work closely with other healthcare professionals to review medication orders, identify potential drug interactions or adverse effects, and monitor patient responses to medications.

2.      Increased efficiency: Hospital pharmacies can help to streamline medication management processes by providing timely medication dispensing and reducing the risk of medication errors. Automated dispensing systems and electronic medication ordering and record-keeping can also improve medication management efficiency.

3.      Cost savings: Hospital pharmacies can help to reduce medication costs by sourcing medications at a lower cost, reducing waste through medication management practices, and promoting the use of lower-cost generic medications where appropriate.

4.      Improved patient outcomes: Hospital pharmacies can improve patient outcomes by ensuring that patients receive appropriate medications and by providing education on medication use and safety.

5.      Coordination of care: Hospital pharmacies can play an important role in coordinating medication management across different settings of care, including the hospital, outpatient clinics, and community pharmacies. This can help to ensure continuity of care and prevent medication-related problems such as adverse drug events and medication errors.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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