Pharmacy Education Needs to Address Diagnostic Safety

Mark L. Graber, MD; Gloria R Grice, PharmD; Louis J. Ling, MD; Jeannine M. Conway, PharmD; Andrew Olson, MD


Am J Pharm Educ. 2019;83(6):7442 

In This Article


We have presented the case that pharmacists are important members of the diagnostic team. Depending on their training, defined scope of responsibilities and practice context, pharmacists are already acting in this capacity daily. What is missing in both the competency expectations and in pharmacy education is explicit acknowledgement of the contribution that pharmacists make in the diagnostic process, encouragement for them to participate in this process proactively and regularly, and education and training experiences that prepare them appropriately for these roles. The language of the professional competency expectations needs to reflect proper acknowledgement of diagnostic quality and safety. Training programs need to translate these expectations into relevant coursework and experiences. Ideally, this training would be done in interprofessional settings in the classroom, simulations, and clinical practice experiences.

Promoting and achieving competency in diagnosis is particularly important right now, as pharmacists are practicing in an expanding range of health care settings, and the profession is seeking "more advanced direct patient care roles."[12] Considering the cost of diagnostic errors both in dollars and in harm, the NAM asserted that "improving the diagnostic process is not only possible, but it also represents a moral, professional, and public health imperative."[11] It is critical for pharmacy educators to join with all other health care educators to address this need as quickly as possible.