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News Release

ISMP Announces Leadership Transitions

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is entering a new era with the announcement that Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), founder and president, has transitioned to a President Emeritus role. He will be stepping back in terms of his work hours, but will remain involved with the ISMP newsletters and projects that he continues to be passionate about. Rita K. Jew, PharmD, MBA, BCPPS, FASHP, ISMP’s vice president of operations, has been appointed ISMP’s new president.

Michael Cohen founded ISMP in 1994 and launched the first of its five Medication Safety Alert! publications in 1996. Those publications now reach more than a million healthcare professionals in the U.S. and over 30 other countries. Dr. Cohen also is the longtime Chair of the International Medication Safety Network (IMSN) and a former member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee and Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee.

Under his leadership, ISMP has had a tremendous positive impact on medication safety. The organization has grown to become a vital force for progress, securing thousands of product changes to improve safety and significantly impacting standards and industry guidance on naming, labeling, and packaging. ISMP’s error reporting program and unique resources for healthcare providers and consumers have drawn national attention to medication safety problems, offered new ways of thinking, and inspired innovation. Today, ISMP works to improve safety both in the U.S. and internationally, along with sister organizations created in Brazil, Canada, and Spain. In 2020, Dr. Cohen ensured ISMP’s legacy would endure by forging a key alliance with ECRI, which also created one of the largest healthcare quality and safety entities in the world.

Dr. Cohen has been widely recognized and honored for his advocacy and contributions to the field, including receiving the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award from the National Quality Forum and Joint Commission and the Harvey A.K. Whitney Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. In 2006, he was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“Mike has been a true leader in patient safety, and at times the sole voice in the wilderness waking people up to the need for system-based changes to prevent medication errors,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of ECRI. “His influence is unparalleled, and we at ECRI are thrilled he will remain available as an expert advisor and driver of change.”

ISMP’s new president, Dr. Rita Jew, is a nationally recognized pharmacy executive and medication safety expert with more than 30 years of experience leading pharmaceutical care services. Prior to joining ISMP, Dr. Jew held leadership positions at several well-known acute care institutions, including University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Health, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also established her own consulting firm, RKJ Health Partners, where she provided guidance on medication safety, pharmacy operations, specialty pharmacy, and sterile compounding as well as advising technology start-ups.

Dr. Jew has published and presented on a wide range of issues, including pediatric medication practices, immunizations, and healthcare technology and automation. She has held leadership positions at local, state, and national pharmacy organizations, serving as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Section of Clinical Specialists and Scientists at the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP), Director-at-Large of the Pennsylvania Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists Board, and President of the Delaware Valley Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (DVSHP).

Her many honors include being named a Fellow of ASHP as well as receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the ASHP Section of Clinical Specialists and Scientists (SCSS), Children’s Hospital Association Honorable Mention in the Race for Results for improving patient safety by optimizing smart pump utilization, Friend of Nursing Award from the Association of California Nurse Leaders, and Jonathan Roberts Award from DVSHP.

Dr. Jew received her Doctor of Pharmacy from University of California at San Francisco, completed an ASHP-Accredited Residency in Clinical Pharmacy at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and earned a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacy Specialist.

“Rita is uniquely well-positioned to lead ISMP into its next chapter, and to guide the healthcare community through the complex medication safety issues that are constantly evolving, particularly related to the use of technology,” says Dr. Cohen. “I can’t think of anyone better qualified to ensure that ISMP’s mission continues in the future.”

For more on these transitions and ISMP’s long history of advancing medication safety, visit:


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