PHARMACIST ROLE OVERVIEW
Many a time we hear that a Pharmacist’s job is only limited to dispense medicines but this isn’t true. In fact, a Pharmacist has a variety of roles to play in addition to the dispensing of medicines. In order for you to get an idea as well as understand the roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist. Read the story below:
My uncle is a Hypertensive patient and one day he went to a pharmacy for refilling his prescription. They had a chat for some time and at the end of the counselling session, the pharmacist said “This medicine is for High Blood pressure”, but my uncle being unaware of this term got confused as the doctor had used the term Hypertension. Due to this confusion, my uncle stopped taking the medication, so, a few days later he had to be hospitalized due to an increase in his blood pressure which was around 220/130.
Why does this happen? Who is responsible for my uncle’s condition? Who was responsible for this medication error? Is the Pharmacist responsible for this?
All the facts lead to the Pharmacist, but the truth is it was my uncle’s mistake as he did not conform with the doctor and stopped taking the medication. So, this story shows the situation of a Pharmacist. Without a doubt, whichever person’s mistake it is, it’s always the Pharmacist taking the blame.
Do you know, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 138 million people are harmed every year due to medication errors. That’s more than the entire population of Germany, France and Spain combined.
In India, healthcare is provided at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and at each level most patients receive medication as part of their treatment. Due to heavy patient load, most prescribers have little time to explain the use of these medications to their patients. As a result, most patients do not get enough information about their medications which in turn may result in therapeutic failure, adverse effects and even hospitalization.
The pharmaceutical sciences are developing rapidly all over the world. So, It’s our responsibility to utilize this scientific knowledge in the proper use of medicine. As a pharmacist we have two major roles:
- Counselling & educating the patient
- Monitoring of drug levels
WHAT IS COUNSELLING?
Counselling is the process of providing information, advice and assistance to help patients use their medicine appropriately. Besides, we must provide information regarding the medicine to the patient or their representatives. During counselling, we must assess the patient’s understanding of their treatment & we have to provide individualized advice and information. Following this helps the patients to take their medications safely and effectively.
Additionally, a pharmacist must be familiar with the pathophysiology, therapeutics of the patient’s disease to provide accurate advice and to prevent any errors. As a pharmacist, we aim to produce the following results by providing an effective medication counselling to the patient which includes:
- Making the patient understand the disease they are suffering from
- Improving their medication adherence
- Making drug treatment more effective
- Reducing medication errors and adverse effects
- Improving the patient’s quality of life
- Improving the professional rapport between the patient and the pharmacist.
Pharmacists in India face considerable challenges which require innovation and creativity to manage successfully. The following precautions are essential to take while counselling the patient.
- Using the language which the patient understands
- Use appropriate counselling aids like diagrams, photos, videos or leaflets
- Presenting facts and concepts in simple words
- Use open-ended questions
- Providing information about the medicine is an important role of pharmacists.
Counselling is a two-way communication process. Interaction between the patient and a pharmacist is essential for the counselling to be effective. The success of counselling depends on the knowledge & skill of the counsellor.
HOW IS A PATIENT COUNSELLING DONE?
Firstly, Gathering information about the patient is the initial phase of counselling. Generally, patients visiting pharmacies are often in a hurry to go their home, but this type of introduction mentally prepares the patient to spend some time with us. Particularly, using open and reflective questions can help us gather more information. Indeed, it is important for us as a pharmacist to avoid asking questions directly and embarrassingly.
During the second phase of the counselling, we explain the patient about their medication and treatment regimens. Discussions on Lifestyle changes should be done. So, we must use a language well understood by the patient and we must try to avoid technical terms.
Before closing the session, it is essential to check how much the patient understood “Coz they just shake their heads”. This can be assured by feedback questioning. It is also advisable to end the session by asking the patient “Do you have any questions?” Written Information can be used to provide details & to serve as a record of verbal information.
Friends, I believe, a pharmacist is the vital part of the healthcare system. Our work is being overlooked more than others and we do not receive the proper credit. Without this field, the balance in the medical community would be disrupted Pharmacist are underutilized in the Indian Healthcare System.
With support from our Profession’s leaders, more and more pharmacists will take their place in the healthcare team and may contribute to the improved quality of use of medications in the country.
As drug therapy has expanded, so has the opportunity for the incidence of drug-related morbidity and mortality. Pharmacists play a major role in the prevention of the rational use of medicines. Drug-related problems in healthcare are about 50%. Pharmacists as professionals must contribute new knowledge to the literature through research.
A critical aspect of a pharmacist’s work is to effectively communicate with a wide range of people. Apart from this, the concept of pharmaceutical care focuses on the responsibility of the pharmacist to meet all of the patient medical-related needs. The patients being well informed about their medication is a safe and effective medical practice.
Thus, patient education can address many drug use problems and their consequences such as Drug Interactions and Adverse Drug Reactions.