Putting patient safety first

Headshot of Eric Vermilya, a pharmacist with Express Scripts Pharmacy

When a prescription raised safety concerns, a pharmacist was determined to get the patient the right dose.

Something just didn’t sit right with Eric Vermilya when he was reviewing a prescription for an 84-year-old patient. Having been a registered pharmacist for 30 years, Vermilya understands the extra safety precautions that sometimes have to be taken with older patients.

He had concerns about the patient being prescribed a medication to reduce the risk of blood clots. The medication is dosed based on kidney function, which can decline as a person ages.

Too high of a dose can lead to potentially fatal bleeding. However, too low of a dose increases the risk for clot formation.

Reaching out to the doctor

Vermilya called the patient’s doctor office and spoke with a nurse.

“It’s not enough to just check with the doctor’s office,” said Vermilya. “A lot of times they’ll just say, ‘This is what the doctor prescribed.’”

Since this was the patient’s first fill with Express Scripts® Pharmacy, Vermilya asked for recent lab work as well as more information about the patient’s health to help him better evaluate the appropriate dose.

Based on the information he was given, Vermilya said the patient’s kidney function was reduced and the dose was too high. He recommended a lower dose and asked for the doctor to call him back.

“Pharmacists are sometimes hesitant to question the doctor, but you can’t just let it go,” Vermilya said. “You really have to press sometimes.”

Persistence for patient safety pays off

The doctor ended up calling back the next day and agreed to lower the patient’s dose based on Vermilya’s recommendation.

Vermilya said he’s grateful to work for Express Scripts® Pharmacy, which gives him the time he needs do proper research and always put each patient’s safety first. He’s also glad to know that the patient — who never even knew what had happened — was able to receive the medication he needed at a dose that kept him safe.

“Just because our patients can’t see us doesn’t mean we aren’t working on their behalf,” Vermilya said. “It’s gratifying to know that what I did in that one small instance, it might have saved a life.”

Posted date: May 24, 2022

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