The impact of critical care pharmacists on enhancing patient outcomes

Intensive Care Med. 2003 May;29(5):691-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-003-1705-3. Epub 2003 Mar 29.


The highly specialized knowledge and skills needed to care for critically ill patients requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Pharmacists are integral members of this team. They make valuable contributions to improve clinical, economic, and humanistic outcomes of patients. The purpose of this article is to review the literature pertaining to pharmacists' contributions within a multidisciplinary intensivist-led intensive care unit (ICU) team. Pharmacist interventions include correcting/clarifying orders, providing drug information, suggesting alternative therapies, identifying drug interactions, and therapeutic drug monitoring. Pharmacist involvement in improving clinical outcomes of critically ill patients is associated with optimal fluid management and substantial reductions in the rates of adverse drug events, medication administration errors, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Furthermore, economic evaluations of clinical pharmacy services in the ICU consistently reveal the potential for considerable cost savings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Drug Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / economics*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / methods
  • Treatment Outcome