Pharmacists are valued members of any healthcare team, and they provide important resources and advice to the patients they deal with. In addition to dispensing medication, a pharmacist can also ensure medications are being given in the right dose, the patient is not taking any other medications that may cause a bad reaction and communicate with healthcare providers when they see a potential issue. These health professionals can work with others to ensure patient safety is the number one priority.
According to the American Pharmacists Association (APA), there are certain responsibilities linked to improving patient safety when it comes to dispensing medication. These responsibilities are explored in further detail below.
Ensuring access to medication
A pharmacist will ensure that patients get the medication they need by evaluating their ability to pay for the medicine and, if it is too expensive, find alternatives to the drug or other payment options. This can also mean communicating with the healthcare team, finding less expensive generic options, or providing information on patient assistance programs. Pharmacists will also work with insurers to make the medication available to patients who may not be able to afford it and advocate on behalf of the patient to insurers.
Supplying medication information
Pharmacists play a large part in patient education when it comes to medications and its effects. They will take the time to talk to the patient about the medication, side effects, potential risks, and potential conflicts with other medications. Pharmacists will also work with the healthcare team on reviewing the proper dose for the patient and educating caregivers to prevent errors or adverse drug effects. This level of expertise in medications is an integral part of the health process for patients, especially when they are taking more than one medication.
Understanding the complexities of medications and their effects on patients is one aspect of the online Doctor of Pharmacy program at an accredited school like the University of Findlay. With flexible online classes that can fit into any working professional’s schedule, distance learning in the exciting field of pharmaceuticals is accessible to anyone with drive and desire.
Evaluating medication appropriateness
A pharmacist’s main priority is the safety of those who they are dispensing medications to. Assessing the appropriateness of the medications and their effectiveness ensures the patient is taking the proper amount of medicine and that it is doing the job it was prescribed to do.
There are certain considerations that a pharmacist must consider when assessing how appropriate medication is for an individual. These include existing medication lists, the patient’s age, weight, ethnicity, allergies, diet, and kidney and liver function. These assessments can result in a change of medication to increase patient safety.
Improving medication adherence
Pharmacists can improve medication adherence by helping patients take their medication as prescribed by their healthcare team. This includes reviewing how the patient is using the medication and making suggestions on changes to dosing or additional therapies such as cannabis or alternative medicine to improve the patient’s adherence to the medication. With elderly patients or those with caregivers, this can also mean educating them on the proper dosage and the importance of following the prescription as given.
Providing health and wellness services
Pharmacists offer a wide range of services, including blood pressure screening, Covid-19 tests, and vaccines, as well as giving other types of vaccinations. Pharmacists are given great responsibility, including being able to test for illnesses and prescribe medication. Their roles were put under strain when Covid-19 was raging through hospitals, and the pharmacists needed to take on additional tasks to reduce the backlog of patients who were unable to get primary care. Pharmacists are also able to provide medications for people who may be going on vacation and need additional medication to keep them safe when traveling abroad.
Assessing health status
Pharmacists may assess a patient’s status and the effectiveness of medication by detecting things like high or low blood pressure. They can provide guidance on any changes to be made so the patient does not experience dangerous effects. By assessing the health status of the patient, the pharmacists can coordinate with the healthcare team to make positive changes and prevent any harm from coming to the patient. Pharmacists are also in a unique position where they see the patient on a regular basis so they can assess whether the patient is experiencing a decline in their health.
Coordinating care transitions
If a patient needs to transition from one medication to another or from one course of treatment to another, then a pharmacist plays an integral part in coordinating with the rest of the healthcare team. They coordinate medication management and identify if there are any potential interactions that could harm the patient. In this way, they are the most effective line of defense for patients who may otherwise be at risk of medication interactions. Technology has made this task easier by compiling all the medications online.
Pharmacists will make a comprehensive review of a patient’s medication regimen to ensure all the drugs work well together and there are no possible interactions that can harm the patient. If there are adverse reactions, then the pharmacist can make the patient’s regimen simpler or fill any gaps in treatment. Pharmacists are highly educated in medications and the reactions between them, so they are the most capable part of the healthcare team for this task.
Since the pandemic, pharmacists have played a major role in the health and well-being of patients. They are able to do more than ever before with the services and resources they can offer, as well as provide important guidance on medication dosage and possible interactions. Pharmacists possess expertise that makes them a valued member of any healthcare team.