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The very nature of this journal, as its name implies, is to provide a European perspective on hospital pharmacy issues. However, we also receive articles from the USA, and in this issue we have a number of such contributions. This wider input is to be encouraged, as it broadens the spectrum of hospital pharmacy practice covered by the journal. In the articles from the USA in this edition, I recognise issues being discussed here in the UK. For example, in the article about the pharmacist in the emergency department, reference is made to interfacing with primary care to ensure better medicines management across the interface. Interfacing with primary care was the theme of the annual hospital pharmacists conference held at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in November. Furthermore, at this UK conference, speakers also pointed out the importance of accurate drug histories and medication reviews in the medical admissions unit. In the articles from the USA relating to preventing medication errors and computerised physician order entry, the point is made that computer systems merely facilitate effective medicines management and need to be managed carefully. This is exactly the same point made at the UK conference when the concept of electronic prescribing was discussed in the context of managing medicines across the interface. I make these comparisons to illustrate that, although there are differences between the healthcare systems in the USA and the UK, there is commonality in many of the issues we face as hospital pharmacists. No doubt readers in other parts of Europe with different healthcare systems will also identify points of common interest that apply to their own practice.
This is not surprising as, no matter where we practise in the world, pharmacists, by definition, are at the centre of the medicines management agenda. In my first editorial in this journal a year ago, I defined medicines management and made the point that it is all about risk management, whether that be clinical or financial risk. We all try to minimise these risks in different ways depending on the particular healthcare system we work in. While this journal carries articles on specific issues relating to hospital pharmacy from across Europe and, as in this edition, the USA, we really need to understand the differences between the healthcare systems we work in and the wider issues facing our colleagues in different countries. In this way our different ways of working can be put into context. This issue is also raised in the article on medicines management in this edition, when discussing using evidence from pharmacy practice research in one country to support service development in another. As healthcare professionals, we face numerous challenges with increasing use of complex medicines in an ageing population with multiple health problems. This journal can support us by showcasing clinical, technological and practice developments. However, these need to be considered in the context of the pharmacy practice and the healthcare systems operating in particular countries.
The editorial board of this journal has considered seeking articles from hospital pharmacists in different countries to describe how their hospital pharmacy systems operate in the context of their own healthcare system. Such articles could also identify what the major issues are affecting hospital pharmacy practice in different countries. I believe this would add to the richness of the content of the journal, as it would enable you, the reader, to place into context articles on particular aspects of hospital pharmacy practice. I would welcome your views on this, and invite you to email them to the Editor, Carole Mongin-Bulewski, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing your views, which will inform the further development of this journal in 2006 and hopefully increase its value to all hospital pharmacists wherever they may practice.