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Reducing Medication Errors: Role of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee

Medication errors are among the leading causes of death in the United States. An essential aspect of developing a rational approach to therapeutics is identifying a way to avoid medication errors. There are many cognitive factors that can contribute to medication errors, including selection of the most appropriate medication with respect to indication for use, concomitant medications that could interact, and patient-specific factors that contribute to the effect of the medication. There are many pressures exerted on the prescribing physician that attempt to influence medication selection. Some of these are institutional policies and formularies that operate in a private practice setting through medication plans, a community or academic medical center, or a large healthcare organization. Creating a team of people to act as a Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee is one approach often chosen to influence and monitor therapeutics. However, the work of the P&T Committee and the function of the members are difficult and challenging tasks that until recently had to be learned by trial and error.

The American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT) is offering a workshop to provide background and training in these skills through its annual program "Core Expertise for P&T Committees: A Workshop" (see This program is an innovative Workshop that provides an opportunity for members of Pharmacy and Therapeutics committees to gain experience with the wide variety of skills needed for optimal formulary decision making. These skills include optimizing the safety and quality of care, devising an effective formulary decision making process, creating an effective team, and complying with regulatory guidelines. The one-day session includes didactic presentations and small group sessions. Hands-on experience with decision making is gained in the setting of role-playing in a mock P&T Committee meeting. Other small group discussions allow for problem solving sessions to address issues identified by participants in their own institutions. The skills learned in this Workshop will enable the P&T committee member to contribute to improvement in the process of rational prescribing and a reduction in medication errors.

More information about the Workshop can be found on the ASCPT website at


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The University of Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics
Arizona Health Sciences Center
Tucson, Arizona  85724-5018

Funded in part by AHCPR grant 1 U18 HS10385-01

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