August 31, 2020 Ashley Struble

Looking For Red Flags

From a Specialty Pharmacy Pharmacist – A 2-year-old with a late-stage rare blood cancer started his last line therapy and filled the medication at our hospital specialty pharmacy. The on-site dispensing pharmacist team brought this to my attention, and I immediately saw many potential red flags.

With some background research on the patient and his medication, I was able to decrease the potential risks faced by the the child’s parents when administering his medication. Because the medication therapy required pills to be crushed before giving them to the child, I recommended a closed system pill crusher so the parents would never have to touch the tablets. The system is comprised of a pill crusher and a bag that connects to a syringe.

The bag with a tablet inside is placed under the pill crusher to form a powder, and then the attached syringe pushes water into the bag to dissolve the tablets. Lastly, the syringe sucks the solution back up so that it can be given to the baby.

When finding out that these products cost more then the family could afford, I emailed the company directly, and they were able to provide a discount. As soon as we removed the financial barriers to care, the parents were taught first-hand by the hospital clinic staff how to prepare the medication with proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for added protection. Having a young child with cancer is unimaginable, and when putting myself in their shoes, I felt the need to do everything I could to make their lives even the slightest bit easier.

This situation highlights the endless possibilities that can result from integrating a pharmacy team with a clinical care team. We would not have been able to get this patient started on medication safely, cost-effectively, in less than one week without the dispensing pharmacist identifying a problem, working with me to execute a proposed solution, and the on-site pharmacist providing an in-person training for the patient’s parents. I am proud to be a part of a care team that encourages using your heart and head to help patients in need.