Background: The role of clinical pharmacists in the care of hospitalized patients has evolved over time, with increased emphasis on collaborative care and patient interaction. The purpose of this review was to evaluate the published literature on the effects of interventions by clinical pharmacists on processes and outcomes of care in hospitalized adults.
Methods: Peer-reviewed, English-language articles were identified from January 1, 1985, through April 30, 2005. Three independent assessors evaluated 343 citations. Inpatient pharmacist interventions were selected if they included a control group and objective patient-specific health outcomes; type of intervention, study design, and outcomes such as adverse drug events, medication appropriateness, and resource use were abstracted.
Results: Thirty-six studies met inclusion criteria, including 10 evaluating pharmacists' participation on rounds, 11 medication reconciliation studies, and 15 on drug-specific pharmacist services. Adverse drug events, adverse drug reactions, or medication errors were reduced in 7 of 12 trials that included these outcomes. Medication adherence, knowledge, and appropriateness improved in 7 of 11 studies, while there was shortened hospital length of stay in 9 of 17 trials. No intervention led to worse clinical outcomes and only 1 reported higher health care use. Improvements in both inpatient and outpatient outcome measurements were observed.
Conclusions: The addition of clinical pharmacist services in the care of inpatients generally resulted in improved care, with no evidence of harm. Interacting with the health care team on patient rounds, interviewing patients, reconciling medications, and providing patient discharge counseling and follow-up all resulted in improved outcomes. Future studies should include multiple sites, larger sample sizes, reproducible interventions, and identification of patient-specific factors that lead to improved outcomes.