3 Opportunities for Health-System Pharmacists to Help HIV Patients Through the Care Continuum

JUNE 16, 2016
Meghan Ross, Senior Associate Editor
Health-system pharmacists play a vital role in treating patients with HIV from the time they’re admitted to their potential readmission, as well as through follow up after discharge.

Linda Spooner, PharmD, RPh, BCPS, FASHP, a professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University, shared with Plantsvszombies.info 3 ways health-system pharmacists can assist HIV-infected patients through the care continuum.

1. Admission
When patients with HIV end up in the hospital, it may not be clear which medications they’re taking. Health-system pharmacists can help with medication reconciliation and make sure that nothing is omitted from patients’ records, especially if they’re taking a multitablet regimen instead of a 1-pill combination product.

Pharmacists can also check to see if a patient’s medications are available in the pharmacy, or determine whether patients have to obtain their own medications. If the pharmacy doesn’t carry a combination product, the pharmacist can assist with piecing together the individual components of the therapy, or seek alternative ways to find the medication.

During admission, pharmacists can help check for drug interactions when new medications are added. They can also facilitate management of the patient, create customizable order sets for antiretroviral therapy, and develop protocol for when HIV-infected patients are admitted to make sure there are no interruptions in their regimens.

“Even just missing 1 dose can compromise the efficacy of that regimen and potentially lead to resistance development,” Dr. Spooner said.

2. Readmission
If a patient with HIV is readmitted to the hospital, the first step is to figure out why. Dr. Spooner said that in her experience, the reason is often tied to something other than HIV.

The pharmacist can help recognize new conditions that have occurred, such as acute renal failure or congestive heart failure, and then assess whether these conditions could have an impact on medication dosing.

“Discharge counseling becomes even more of a focus for these folks,” Dr. Spooner said, noting that health care providers can work together to figure out how to prevent readmission the next time around.