Objectives: to describe hospital pharmacy involvement in medication management in Ireland, both generally and at points of transfer of care, and to gain a broad perspective of the hospital pharmacy workforce.
Methods: a survey of all adult, acute, public hospitals with an accident and emergency (A&E) department (n = 36), using a semi-structured telephone interview.
Key findings: there was a 97% (n = 35) response rate. The majority (n = 25, 71.4%) of hospitals reported delivery of a clinical pharmacy service. On admission, pharmacists were involved in taking or verifying medication histories in a minority (n = 15, 42.9%) of hospitals, while few (n = 6,17.1%) deployed staff to the A&E/acute medical admissions unit. On discharge, the majority (n = 30,85.7%) did not supply any take-out medication, a minority (n =5,14.3%) checked the discharge prescription, 51.4% (n = 18) counselled patients, 42.9% (n = 15) provided medication compliance charts and one hospital (2.9%) communicated with the patient's community pharmacy. The number of staff employed in the pharmacy department in each hospital was not proportionate to the number of inpatient beds, nor the volume of admissions from A&E. There were differences identified in service delivery between hospitals of different type: urban hospitals with a high volume of admissions from A&E were more likely to deliver clinical pharmacy.
Conclusions: the frequency and consistency of delivering pharmacy services to facilitate medication reconciliation at admission and discharge could be improved. Workforce constraints may inhibit service expansion. Development of national standards of practice may help to eliminate variation between hospitals and support service development.