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PHOENIX -- Wal-Mart; Stop & Shop; Giant Food, LLC; and Giant Food Stores and Tops Markets were among the retailers to sign onto a new initiative from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) that will give individuals displaced by natural disasters or other emergencies faster, safer access to vital prescription medications.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the new initiative employs technology that would allow licensed prescribers and pharmacists anywhere in the United States to securely access an information service offering the prescription history, or "Rx History," of a patient from the affected area. During an emergency, Rx History lowers the risk of medication errors by making important information available to licensed caregivers when and where they're treating patients. All communications within Rx History are compliant with HIPAA and state privacy and security laws.
A properly authenticated and licensed medical doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or pharmacist can use Emergency Rx History to confirm the details of a patient's pre-emergency drug regimen, including dosage and physician instructions. Rx History also permits a patient's doctor and pharmacist to make a more informed check for -- and thus increase the chance of avoiding -- potentially harmful drug interactions.
Rx History was first tested by community pharmacies and other health care leaders eager to help Hurricane Katrina victims with no prescription information get their medications. In these situations, licensed caregivers could access medication histories from community pharmacies on KatrinaHealth.org.
According Dr. Roxane Townsend, deputy secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, in a statement: "Providing authenticated caregivers with secure, electronic access to a patient's prescription history can help a physician or pharmacist avoid errors during a stressful situation when they are most likely to occur. For anyone on multiple medications or a medication for a chronic condition, the Emergency Rx History service could help a physician or pharmacist save that person's life."
As well as the retailers mentioned above, in the event of an emergency Brooks Eckerd, CVS/pharmacy, Kerr Drug, Longs Drugs, Rite Aid, and Walgreens will provide access to Rx History via the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, run by SureScripts, an organization founded by NSCDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association.
More pharmacies will be added in the near future and as needed, depending on the geographical area affected. Through continued investment in the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, operated by SureScripts, pharmacies have dramatically boosted the response time and range for the delivery of Rx History.
"We believe this is an excellent initiative as, in the event of an emergency, those impacted often have enough problems and issues to face without being subjected to delays when trying to obtain their personal prescriptions," noted John Fegan, s.v.p. of pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop; Giant Food, LLC; Giant Food Stores; and Tops Markets. "Providing the means to continue one's medications without interruption is a very positive thing."
NACDS represents the nation's leading retail chain pharmacies and suppliers. The organization also boasts an international membership of 80 members from 25 countries.