Comparison of pharmacy services at critical access hospitals and other rural and small hospitals in Illinois

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The results of a survey evaluating pharmacy services and technology use at critical access hospitals (CAHs) and other small and rural hospitals in Illinois are reported.


A mail survey was sent to pharmacy directors at 86 CAHs and other rural and small hospitals in Illinois not designated as CAHs. Independent sample t tests and chi-square statistics were used to compare CAHs and non-CAHs in areas such as pharmacy services, staffing, use of technology, and sterile compounding practices.


The survey response rate was 46.5%, with usable data received from 40 hospitals. Analysis of the survey data indicated that hospitals designated as CAHs were significantly less likely than non-CAHs to have automatic therapeutic interchange policies (p = 0.012) and more likely to conduct pharmacist-provided educational programs on medication costs for physicians and other health care personnel (p = 0.037). Relative to non-CAHs, CAHs were significantly less likely to have automated dispensing cabinets (p = 0.016) and to out-source the preparation of sterile products to offsite vendors (p = 0.012); pharmacy directors at CAHs were less likely to report the use of technology for remote medication order entry or review (p = 0.038). At both types of facilities, pharmacists typically have both distributive and clinical responsibilities, and patient-specific clinical pharmacy services (e.g., patient education or counseling, other drug therapy monitoring, medication reconciliation, pharmacokinetic consultations) are offered at similar frequencies.


A survey of pharmacy departments at small and rural hospitals in Illinois determined that there were more similarities than differences between CAHs and non-CAHs. The survey indicated significant differences in dispensing processes, the use of technology and drug policy tools, and outsourcing of sterile product preparation.

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