J Acute Care Surg.  2021 Mar;11(1):1-5. 10.17479/jacs.2021.1.1.

Pharmacological Interventions on Surgical Intensive Care Units Initiated by Pharmacists

  • 1Department of Surgery, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Office of Pharmacy, Korea University Anam Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Korea University Anam Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


The severity of a patient’s medical condition, changing pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, and variability in medication highlight the importance of pharmacological intervention by intensive care unit (ICU) specialized pharmacists.

Retrospective observations of ICU interventions (omission, changes in medicine, side effects, changes in administration route and dosage, redundancy, and nutritional care) performed between April 2017 and March 2018, determined by an interdisciplinary team (including a specialized ICU pharmacist and a surgical intensivist) on their surgical ICU round, were analyzed. Medicinal prescriptions were screened weekly during the surgical ICU round, and interventions were made if any corrections were necessary. Two days later another team including a surgical intensivist, a pharmacist, and a nutritionist evaluated the patients’ nutritional status (performed weekly).

In the 23-bed ICU, the average number of patients whose prescriptions were examined was 22.38 per surgical round. There were 382 interventions made over 1 year, which was 9.68 interventions per day. The interventions were for nutritional care (161 cases, 42.2%), followed by changes in administration route and dosage (94 cases, 24.6%), omission (59 cases, 15.5%), redundancy (40 cases, 10.4%), changes in medicine (15 cases, 3.9%), and side effects (13 cases, 3.4%).

The conditions of patients admitted to ICU are typically unstable. Pharmacological interventions suggested by a specialized pharmacist may help control the changing medical condition of patients in ICU. A higher participation of pharmacists specialized in working in an interdisciplinary ICU team-based system could lead to safer treatments.


medication error; intensive care unit; pharmacists; surgical intensive care
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