Pharmacist on care team improves dementia care, reduces readmissions

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Adding a pharmacist to healthcare teams may help improve care and cut down on drug-related hospital readmissions for seniors with dementia, new study results indicate.

Researchers at Sweden's Umeå University studied the effect pharmacists had when they participated with hospital healthcare teams to make sure patients' medication lists were complete and correct. The pharmacists also analyzed all the medications patients were taking, and suggested improvements physicians could make when prescribing medications to elderly patients with dementia.

The investigation revealed that clinical pharmacists' interventions helped reduce the number of drug-related readmissions within 180 days of discharge by 50%, noted lead researcher Maria Gustafsson, an assistant professor and clinical pharmacist at Umeå University. Patients who had medication reviews with a pharmacist also had a decreased risk of inappropriate use of drugs such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, Gustafsson found.

“More work is needed in order to prevent, identify and treat these problems in this part of the population," Gustafsson said.

Results of Gustafsson's study were published as a dissertation from Umeå University.