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Bridging the Gap

Published on 19 August 2016

Some patients can feel like they’re in a therapeutic limbo. They are well enough to be at home, but still need intensive antibiotics to clear deep-seated infections. Yvonne Burnett, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, works in that zone every day. She practices in one of the few Outpatient Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) programs in the country, located next door to the College at the Washington University Infectious Diseases Clinic.

Burnett monitors patients during their intravenous medication treatments. Working under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician, she orders and interprets lab tests, adjusts medication as needed and counsels patients about their treatment every step of the way.

“One of my most important jobs is to make sure the medication is effective and not reaching toxic levels,” Burnett said.

Burnett recently received a grant from the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists to analyze how pharmacist-led dosing and monitoring of vancomycin in an OPAT program setting affects patient health. Traditionally, the monitoring had been done by physicians or nurse practitioners. Her co-investigators are Scott Micek, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice at the College, Shadi Parsaei, D.O., and Nigar Kirmani, M.D., both of whom are at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“Use of OPAT services is increasing rapidly across the country,” Burnett said. “This research will help build up best-practices amongst pharmacists and the medical community devoted to this area of care.”

Students at the College studying under Burnett will also be participating in the research.

“This is a unique program,” Burnett said. “Students are doing everything alongside me including presenting cases to supervising physicians. They’re gaining an incredible amount of experience with interprofessional health care teams.”

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