WBAMC pharmacist catches serious drug interaction

Dr. Anna Jewula

Dr. Anna Jewula

By Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 9, 2017)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75.2 percent of physician office visits involve medication therapy. For some patients that’s a second or more prescription medication they are instructed to use in their treatment.

In a mission to educate and boost safety, William Beaumont Army Medical Center pharmacists scrutinize new and current prescription medication orders before dispensing them. Thanks to a WBAMC pharmacist’s careful eye, one patient avoided a potentially deadly drug interaction.

Pioglitazone is a prescription drug which decreases blood sugar levels used to treat diabetes. Clopidogrel is a drug used to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by preventing blood clots. While both are safe when prescribed alone, use of pioglitazone is contraindicated (advised against) for patients using clopidogrel due to dangerous decreases in blood sugar levels.

When Dr. Anna Jewula, a pharmacist at WBAMC’s Freedom Crossing pharmacy on Fort Bliss, noticed both pioglitazone and clopidogrel were being prescribed to a patient, she asked the patient how they felt. The patient responded that they were so tired to a point of fainting causing worries regarding other medical issues.

“I knew (the patient) was really concerned,” said Jewula, a Chicago native. “I told him he had to stop the (clopidogrel) immediately.”

While the encounter was part of Jewula’s daily duties to inform and educate patients in their medication therapy, her actions impressed the patient.

Col. Erik Rude, commander, WBAMC, said this is a perfect example of someone doing a great job.

A chance meeting during a recent retiree appreciation event brought the intervention to the attention of the WBAMC commander. According to the patient, an out-of-network physician prescribed new medications without knowledge of the patient’s current medication therapy. When the patient attempted to refill the prescription at the Freedom Crossing pharmacy, Jewula addressed the contraindication.

“I don’t know if (an outside-the-network pharmacist) would have caught the contraindication,” Rude said. “That’s why a lot of our patients keep coming back to us.”

Because beneficiary health records from a Military Treatment Facility may not be available to some civilian providers, it’s possible that a medication may be overlooked when visiting a physician who is not a patient’s assigned primary care manager.

“I believe everybody in this pharmacy would do the same thing,” Jewula said. “(Pharmacy) is a support service. Sometimes we don’t see the end result of our interventions. It was a true honor to help this patient with their quality of life.”