In this part of the world, it would seem the role of pharmacists are not understood let alone appreciated. Somewhere along the line, things got blurred and now we have people either placing expectations on pharmacists that should not be or not even knowing what to expect of a pharmacist. You see scenarios where pharmacists are carrying out their duties and you hear things like “why would you ask me that?” or “why would you ask for a prescription?”
Who really is a pharmacist? Why do they tend to ask questions when you go to get your prescription filled? Why do they ask to speak with your Doctor sometimes? Aren’t they just supposed to just count drugs? The answers to these questions and many more is what I hope to achieve with this post.
A pharmacist, the medication expert on the healthcare team, is a healthcare professional who is concerned with ensuring the safe and efficacious use of medications, providing information on medicines and medicinal products, and ensuring the overall wellness of the Patient/Client.
The professional commitment of a pharmacist is Pharmaceutical care! (Not to bore you with medical jargon but this basically means responsibly providing drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve the patient’s quality of life within realistic economic expenditures).
I have come to recognize and accept my role as a Pharmacist, I therefore solemnly and truthfully pledge MYSELF to devote my life to the service of mankind.”
-excerpts from the Pharmacist’s Oath, PCN ’15
In no particular order, here are some of the responsibilities of a pharmacist, especially as it relates to the patient.
1. Dispensing/Filling prescriptions: This is probably the single most expected duty of pharmacists. It is the responsibility of the pharmacist to ensure prescriptions presented to them are filled accurately as is suited to the patient. The pharmacist has the ultimate responsibility of ensuring the 3 R’s – Right drug, Right patient and Right dose, and assessing a prescription to check for possible interactions and proper dosages. This is essential because all drugs are poisons, it’s only the indication and amount ingested that draws the fine line between it being efficacious and it being flat out lethal to you. The pharmacist is legally obligated to not supply drugs that are likely to be abused or may be detrimental to your health where there is no reason to believe that it is required.
…I do consider the health of the patient or patrons above all and will abstain from whatever may be deleterious to their health.”
-excerpts from the Pharmacist’s Oath, PCN ’15
2. Communicate with Prescribers: As earlier mentioned, the pharmacist is the medication expert on the healthcare team and as such it is the duty of the pharmacist, in whatever setting(hospital or community), to ensure that you are receiving the best medication for your situation. Sometimes this may entail having to liaise with your physician but be rest assured that it will only result in you getting the best care. Anytime a prescription order is unclear or potentially harmful to a patient, it is the responsibility of the pharmacist to confirm dosages, formulations and substitutions, sometimes even make suggestions on what decision and medication is better suited for the patient.
3. Counsel patients: This role involves more than just informing you on adverse reactions or drug interactions, although those are equally important information the pharmacist passes on to the patient. The counselling session is more of an interactive training session where the patient is involved in his/her own regimen. The patient is educated on how and when to take doses, follow up questions are asked to see if the medication has been helpful to the patient. The pharmacist shares tips on how best to minimize side effects and maximize benefits of a patient’s regimen, and also advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
4. Health Promotion: The pharmacist engages in health promotion campaigns on a wide range of health-related topics and particularly drug-related topics such as antibiotic resistance, rational drug use, alcohol abuse, etc and also disease prevention campaigns like immunizations. Health topics such as Hypertension, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Diabetes and even family planning are examples of issues the pharmacist responsibly educates the community on.
These are only a few of the responsibilities of pharmacists as it relates to patients so the next time you come in contact with a pharmacist, whether in the hospital or in a community pharmacy, feel free to ask for whatever medical advice you require. Our professional responsibilities center around you, the client, and we are here to ensure you get the best care.
Till next post,