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The Case of Ruth James

A Woman in Excellent Health


Christine M. Catney
College of Pharmacy
University of Iowa


In this case, designed for beginning pharmacy students, an elderly woman apparently “in excellent health” suddenly becomes ill and health care practitioners must determine the cause. The case is written in a four-part progressive disclosure format with an acute care clinical context. Ideally, the case should be used early in a pharmacy curriculum in a course such as pharmacy orientation, introduction to pharmaceutical care, or a pharmacy practice laboratory.


  • Identify one drug-related problem in the case and write a pharmacist's note to document the problem.
  • Describe the pharmacist's role in detecting, resolving, and preventing drug-related problems.
  • Write a reflection on the learning process.


Drug interaction; herbal remedies; Halcion; Tylenol; kava; triazolam; diphenhydramine; hyperlipidemia; pharmaceutics; pharmacotherapy, pharmacokinetics; aging; acute care; pharmacist-patient communication

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Graduate, Professional (degree program), Clinical education



Type / Methods

Problem-Based Learning, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Pharmacy / Pharmacology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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