In Brief

APA and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) have come together to create a joint program that aims to help pharmacists deal with serious medical errors. The joint effort is also one of the first to be undertaken by ASHP's new Center on Patient Safety, which helps "practitioners deal with the emotional repercussions that often result from a medication error that causes significant harm or death."

For its part in the initiative, APA will make the "Talk To Someone Who Can Help" toll-free telephone service available to put pharmacists in touch with their state's psychological association, who can then provide information about locating a local psychologist.

ASHP has reported that system problems are known to be the root cause of most major errors. However, it is the practitioners involved that are held responsible and must face unsympathetic environments.

When an error occurs with the medication a patient receives, pharmacists often find themselves alone in dealing with the aftermath that can include job loss, guilt and a lack of supportive relatives or friends. "The period following a serious medication error is very unsettling and can be particularly traumatic for the practitioners closely tied to the incident," says ASHP Executive Vice President Henri R. Manasse Jr., PhD.

The program is a part of APA's "Talk To Someone Who Can Help" campaign, designed to educate the public about psychological services and how to access them.