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Dr. Warholak is assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. She earned a B.S. in pharmacy and an M.S. and Ph.D. in pharmacy administration from Purdue University. Her professional experience encompasses practice in both hospital and community pharmacies, including 5 years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (Indian Health Service). In addition, she completed a short tour of duty with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Warholak has been recognized as winner of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Council of Faculties Innovations in Teaching Competition for her work titled “Application of Quality Assurance Principles: Reducing Medication Errors in 30 Pharmacy Practice Settings.” This work formed the basis of a national quality improvement educational program for students and pharmacists. Dr. Warholak's teaching and research interests include medication error reduction, health information technology evaluation, questionnaire development, and bringing pharmaceutical care to underserved populations. As such, she has substantial experience collaborating with pharmacists and other health care providers. She has participated in studies evaluating the quality of patient care, techniques for reducing medication errors, and health information technology assessment.

After completing this chapter, reader should be able to

  1. Discuss the importance of quality in pharmacy practice.

  2. Describe how quality is measured in pharmacy practice.

  3. Justify the use of successful quality practices employed by other industries in pharmacy practice.

  4. Explain the differences between quality assurance, quality control, and continuous quality improvement.

  5. List three methods for ensuring quality in pharmacy practice.

  6. Outline the steps necessary for a successful continuous quality improvement plan.

  7. Prioritize areas/functions most suitable for conducting a quality analysis.

  8. Identify sources for additional information about quality assessment and improvement.

Anita Katz was promoted to “pharmacy manager” at a community pharmacy last week. She was excited and wanted to make some positive changes. Among the charges assigned her was to implement quality improvement programs in the pharmacy to decrease errors, increase efficiency, and improve store performance on pharmacy quality measures so as to maximize service, avoid mistakes that had cost the pharmacy in the past, and also to more easily pass accreditation processes. However, she was overwhelmed and did not know where to start the quality improvement process. Some questions she asked herself were: How should I begin? Who should I involve? How should I decide which quality issue to address first? What type of interventions have been successful in the past? Are there quality improvement programs available that I could use? What stakeholders do I need buy-in from? Anita began to do researching on the Internet but also began to recall key concepts from her Quality Improvement and Medication Error Reduction class in pharmacy school. Armed with this information, she began the planning that would make her pharmacy truly exceptional.

1. How is quality defined within the context of pharmacy practice?

2. Define health care quality in layperson's terms.

3. How can ...

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