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  1. Identifying, resolving, and preventing drug therapy problems are the unique contributions of the pharmaceutical care practitioner.

  2. Identifying a drug therapy problem is a clinical judgment that requires the practitioner to identify an association between the patient's medical condition and the patient's pharmacotherapy.

  3. Medication management services add value to the care of individual patients by identifying, resolving, and preventing drug therapy problems.

  4. There are seven distinct categories of drug therapy problems.

  5. How the practitioner describes the drug therapy problem influences the selection of interventions to resolve the problem.

  6. A correctly stated drug therapy problem includes (a) a description of the patient's condition or problem, (b) the drug therapy involved, and (c) the specific association between the drug therapy and the patient's condition.

  7. Drug therapy problems should be assessed for their severity, acuteness, and significance to the patient to determine how quickly the resolution of the problem must occur.

  8. When multiple drug therapy problems exist, prioritize them and begin with the problem that is most important to the patient and/or is critical to the health of the patient.

  9. Patients who have no drug therapy problems still require a care plan and follow-up evaluation to ensure that the goals of therapy continue to be met and no new drug therapy problems develop.


Drug therapy problems are the clinical domain of the pharmaceutical care practitioner. The purpose of identifying drug therapy problems is to help patients achieve their goals of therapy and realize the best possible outcomes from drug therapy. In the following sections, we will discuss the terminology, components, and categories of drug therapy problems and their central importance to the practice of pharmaceutical care and medication management services.


The identification of drug therapy problems is the focus of the assessment and represents the key decisions made in that step of the patient care process. Although drug therapy problem identification is technically part of the assessment process, it represents the truly unique contribution made by pharmaceutical care practitioners. Therefore, a separate discussion has been devoted to describing drug therapy problems so that you can learn to identify, resolve, and most importantly, prevent drug therapy problems in your practice.


Drug therapy problems are a consequence of a patient's drug-related needs that have gone unmet. They are central to pharmaceutical care practice.


Definition A drug therapy problem is any undesirable event experienced by a patient that involves, or is suspected to involve, drug therapy, and that interferes with achieving the desired goals of therapy and requires professional judgment to resolve.1,2


If not resolved, drug therapy problems have clinical consequences. As clinical patient problems, drug therapy problems require professional (clinical) judgment to resolve. The characteristics of requiring professional judgment place drug therapy problems at par with other clinical problems in medicine, dentistry, and nursing.


Every health care practitioner is responsible for helping patients with problems that require a certain ...

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