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Brad Burton, PharmD, An Experienced Oncology Pharmacist and Patient Safety Advocate, Explores the Importance of Maintaining Up-to-Date Medication Histories in order to Reduce Medication Errors and Improve Patient Outcomes

Denver, Colorado, 21st May 2023, ZEX PR WIRE, In a recent interview, Dr. Brad Burton, an oncology pharmacist whose experience spans over 15 years, shared his perspectives regarding the importance of maintaining an accurate and complete list of medications (including complementary and alternative products). Burton notes that allowing for extra time and attention to the patient-provider interaction plays a pivotal role in reducing medication errors and enhancing patient safety in the fast-paced and ever-evolving healthcare field. These risks are even higher in an oncology patient because of the complexity of regimens administered, drug interactions, unique toxicity profiles associated with novel agents, and the presence of other chronic comorbidities. 

Burton commented that medication errors can have severe consequences, including prolonged hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and even loss of life. He notes that these consequences are of special importance in older adults, as this demographic generally takes more medications than other age groups. Another key consideration that Burton points out is over the counter (OTC) medications. Although these medications can be obtained without a prescription, Burton underscores the importance of inquiring specifically about this class of medications during every patient interview as these agents may be perceived as carrying less severe safety and/or drug interaction risks than agents dispensed via prescription.

According to Burton, pharmacists are often viewed by patient care teams as the medication experts, and therefore play a critical role in ensuring accurate and current medication histories. He also believes that the responsibility can and should be shared across the team, to ensure that patients are kept safe from medication errors. Moreover, Burton added that up-to-date medication histories promote seamless communication and collaboration among healthcare providers. When health care providers can access accurate and current information, they can coordinate care more efficiently, leading to a more cohesive and integrated healthcare system. Burton notes that this is crucial for cancer patients where care decisions oftentimes involve members of multiple disciplines, including radiation oncology, dietitians, and palliative care specialists to name a few. When teams are communicating closely about medication recommendations and updates, the likelihood of therapeutic duplication and other medication-related problems is reduced and the risk of complications and consequences previously described is minimized, thereby enhancing patient safety throughout the care continuum. 

Burton also noted that in the digital age, the transition from paper-based records to electronic health records (EHRs) has further amplified the significance of up-to-date medication histories. He noted that EHR systems facilitate real-time access to patient data, enable automatic alerts for allergies or drug interactions, and enhance data accuracy through standardized documentation practices. Burton also said that EHRs support data analysis and allow healthcare organizations to identify patterns, trends, and potential risks to patient safety, thereby driving continuous quality improvement.

Burton remains committed to promoting patient safety through emphasizing the importance of up-to-date medication histories as a cornerstone of patient-centered care. Throughout his career, he has been heavily involved in conducting medication histories, communicating its importance to patient care teams, and working with other disciplines within the health care delivery system to optimize their management and utilization. To quote Burton, 

“As we embrace the digital era, the significance of up-to-date medication histories cannot be overstated. By prioritizing accurate and current patient information, healthcare organizations can reduce medical errors, enhance patient safety, and save lives.”

Brad Burton, PharmD is an Associate Director, Oncology Patient Safety Scientist at AstraZeneca where he works with a team of pharmacovigilance scientists and physicians supporting risk management planning for investigational cancer products. Before joining AstraZeneca, Burton worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 13 years, as a clinical pharmacy specialist focusing on the management of solid tumors and associated supportive care needs in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Besides his stellar career, Burton is passionate about the education and training of pharmacists and other health care professionals, and he holds multiple certifications, including Good Pharmacovigilance Practice (GVP), ACCP: Precision Medicine – Oncology Genomics, and Board-Certified Oncology Pharmacist (BCOP) through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. 

DISCLAIMER: Dr. Burton contributed to this press release in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of AstraZeneca or Johns Hopkins Hospital or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Fast Amplify journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.