Graduating Pharmacist Saves a Life

A pharmacy student who graduated with a doctoral degree on Friday has already intervened on behalf of a diabetic patient, likely saving her life. The incident also changed how a pharmaceutical call center responds to high-risk medical emergencies.

A couple minutes into the call I noticed that something was off, because the patient kept asking me to repeat what I was saying and it sounded like she was very out of it,” said Andrew Garcia, who graduated with a doctorate in Pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson. “I realized that the situation could have ended very badly had we not been fortunate enough to be doing a medication review with this patient at just the right time.”

Garcia was a first-year student in the PharmD program and interning in the UA College of Pharmacy Medication Management Center, when he provided a Medicare patient with a comprehensive review of her medications by phone. During the consultation, Andrew realized the patient was experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia. She became increasingly withdrawn, slurred her words, then she was completely unresponsive to Andrew’s efforts to rouse her over the phone.

“Andrew reached out to me and let me know of his concerns,” said Jenny Bingham, PharmD, Transition of Care Coordinator & Medication Management Specialist at the UA College of Pharmacy Medication Management Center. “I then contacted their local police department to request a well check visit. Once the police arrived, the patient was found unconscious on the floor and received treatment for hypoglycemia on site.”

Following the incident, the center initiated a high-risk Red Flag educational training service for pharmacy interns in order help identify signs of uncontrolled medical conditions.

Established in 2006 by the UA College of Pharmacy, the Medication Management Center serves as the primary clinical provider of medication therapy management services to SinfoníaRx. Through Tech Launch Arizona, Sinfonía HealthCare Corp. purchased the licensing from the UA startup in 2013 and now provides more than 1,000 consultations daily from four call center locations: two staffed with UA employees in Tucson and Phoenix; one staffed with Ohio State University employees in Columbus, OH; and one staffed with SinfoníaRx employees in Gainesville, FL. In addition, SinfoníaRx provides the medication management platform to major drugs store chains such as Walmart, with 4,500 locations nationwide, and more than 300 health plans.

Pictured: Andrew Garcia, PharmD, UA College of Pharmacy Class of 2017

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