Pharmacists in Critical Care
The beginnings of caring for critically ill patients date back to Florence Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War in 1854, but the subspecialty of critical care medicine is relatively young. The first US multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) was established in 1958, and the American Board of Medical Subspecialties first recognized the subspecialty of critical care medicine in 1986. Critical care pharmacy services began around the 1970s, growing in the intervening 40 years to become one of the largest practice areas for clinical pharmacists, with its own section in the SCCM, the largest international professional organization in the field. During the next decade, pharmacy services expanded to various ICU settings (both adult and pediatric), the operating room, and the emergency department. In these settings, pharmacists established clinical practices consisting of therapeutic drug monitoring, nutrition support, and participation in patient care rounds. Pharmacists also developed efficient and safe drug delivery systems with the evolution of critical care pharmacy satellites and other innovative programs. In the 1980s, critical care pharmacists designed specialized training programs and increased participation in critical care organizations. The number of critical care residencies and fellowships doubled between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. Standards for critical care residency were developed, and directories of residencies and fellowships were published. In 1989, the Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology Section was formed within the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the largest international, multidisciplinary, multispecialty critical care organization. This recognition acknowledged that pharmacists are necessary and valuable members of the physician-led multidisciplinary team. The Society of Critical Care Medicine Guidelines for Critical Care Services and Personnel deem that pharmacists are essential for the delivery of quality care to critically ill patients. These guidelines recommend that a pharmacist monitor drug regimen for dosing, adverse reactions, drug-drug interactions, and cost optimization for all hospitals providing critical care services. The guidelines also advocate that a specialized, decentralized pharmacist provide expertise in nutrition support, cardiorespiratory resuscitation, and clinical research in academic medical centers providing comprehensive critical care.
Article Type: Commentary
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