This is Part Two in a three-part series on pharmacist prescribing. Part One provides an overview of pharmacist prescribing and Part Three reviews prescribing in hospital settings. Yes, pharmacists, like me, do work in our hospitals!
The majority of pharmacists work in a community or retail pharmacy setting. They are the friendly but often frantic professionals you see behind the counter in every pharmacy. More recently, there are small numbers of pharmacists working in other community based settings such as primary care clinics, home care, and specialized outpatient clinics (e.g., HIV, heart failure).
These pharmacists are all authorized to prescribe medications in many routine circumstances.
Today I’m giving your five examples of how community pharmacist prescribing can help optimize your health.
Example 1: You’re Out of Your Regular Medication
Are you afflicted by a chronic disease that requires long-term medication therapy? You might have asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes-all very common health conditions. If you happen to run out of your regular prescription medication, and need a prescription renewal, pharmacists can write you a prescription to make sure you have a continuous supply. Of course it’s still important that you have regular follow-up with your care provider who is managing your health condition, but tiding you over helps you stay adherent to your medications and avoids worsening of your chronic medical condition.
Example 2: Routine Acute Medical Conditions
Think you have a sexually transmitted infection, seasonal allergies or a bacterial eye infection? Some pharmacists are trained and comfortable assessing you for these types of medical conditions and can order appropriate laboratory tests and prescribe you the best medication for your needs. This can help you get rapid access to care. In cases where your condition cannot be managed by the pharmacist, they will of course refer you to your primary care provider.
Example 3: Your Original Prescription Requires “Tweaking”
Let’s say your physician gave you a prescription for a medication that is currently unavailable due to a drug shortage, or for a drug that is not covered by your insurance plan. Based on his or her assessment, your pharmacist can make changes to your medication formulation, for example changing a liquid to a tablet, or substituting a similar drug that would have the same effect as your originally prescribed drug.
Example 4: It’s an Emergency!
Are you acutely short of breath or starting to have an anaphylactic reaction with no chance to get urgent medical care? This is a rare occurrence in which a pharmacist can prescribe and assist you with your emergency medical condition.
Example 5: Ongoing Medication Management
Comprehensive medication management is a structured process where your clinical pharmacist collaboratively manages all your medications to meet your goals.
An example of ongoing medication management occurs in pharmacist managed anticoagulation (“blood thinner”) clinics. These pharmacists often order the blood work, provide timely follow-up, and prescribe dosage changes. They identify, prevent, and manage drug interactions with anticoagulant medication and give detailed instructions to patients to ensure they know how to take these medications correctly.
These are but five examples of pharmacist prescribing in community settings in Alberta and select provinces. The purpose of each example is to demonstrate how pharmacists can provide safe, and effective pharmaceutical care in collaboration with the rest of your healthcare team.
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