Pharmacy students celebrate Medication Safety Week with community outreach event

April 16, 2018

Chris Verdi meeting with Beverley Laubert
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In celebration of Medication Safety Week, students from The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy organized a community outreach event on Friday, April 6 to help counsel older Ohioans on their prescription medications.

Developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medication Safety Week aims to increase awareness of medication safety issues among health professionals and consumers to reduce the risk of harm through safe and quality use of medicines. Government agencies across the country organize events to better educate their communities on best practices for prescription drug use.

In Ohio, this year’s events were pioneered by the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) and the Ohio Pharmacist Association (OPA). In conjunction with the state-wide STEADY U Ohio fall prevention initiative, ODA and OPA encouraged pharmacies to provide free, confidential medicine reviews for elderly adults who visit their locations. The reviews focused on medications and drug combinations that can cause dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and could contribute to life-altering falls.

“One in three Ohioans over the age of 60 will experience a fall this year, and falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among our elders,” Beverley Laubert, interim director of the Ohio Department of Aging, said. “Prevention starts by understanding the risks and our pharmacy partners play a crucial role in having the conversation with their customers.”

Students from the College of Pharmacy were able to get involved at a local level by volunteering at the Happy Druggist Pharmacy in Columbus. Chris Verdi, a third year pharmacy student, worked with the location to schedule the event and get his fellow students involved.

“Dr. Ruth Emptage let me know about Medication Safety Week and asked me to help out,” Verdi said. “She is always looking for opportunities where students can work with patients, get out of the classroom and use what we’ve been learning in practice.”

Throughout the day, students, alongside pharmacists, counseled adult patients on their medications, focusing on prescriptions and combinations that could lead to falls. Patients stopped by the Happy Druggist Pharmacy to be counseled by the students, learning about the compounding risk of taking certain medications together.

“This event was an awesome way for students to gain experience discussing medications with patients,” Verdi said. “We gained some hands-on experience, and I hope the patients learned something too.”