Responsibilities of a pharmacist - Part I


 Hello again from Beth, one of your Pharmacy Chicks! One of the most frequent questions that I hear from patients in a pharmacy is “Why does the pharmacist have to talk to me about my prescription?” This week, I want to help you understand why it’s important for you to talk with the pharmacist every time that you get a prescription that has been newly sent in from your prescriber.

First, let’s talk about the pharmacy process of receiving your prescription from the prescriber. The basics of the actual prescription include patient name, date, drug, directions, quantity, refills, and prescriber. The prescription may come electronically from the prescriber, by telephone, by fax, or you might drop off a paper copy. Regardless of how it arrives at the pharmacy, the prescription information must be interpreted by pharmacy staff and entered into the pharmacy system. The prescription is filled and prepared for you to pick up. The pharmacist is responsible for ensuring that the prescriber’s instructions are followed and that the pharmacy staff has correctly entered the information. The pharmacist is also responsible for the following:

  • ensuring that the medication prescribed is appropriate and safe,
  • ensuring that there are no interactions with any other medications you take,
  • ensuring that there are no problems because of health conditions you have,
  • ensuring that the dose prescribed is appropriate and safe,
  • ensuring that the medication and directions follow standard medical treatment guidelines,
  • ensuring that the correct patient gets the medication,
  • ensuring that you understand how to best take the medication,
  • ensuring that you understand what to expect when you take the medication, and
  • ensuring that you understand what to do if something unexpected happens.

When you arrive at the pharmacy counter to pick up your prescription, some of these pharmacist’s responsibilities have already been completed. When you fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, the pharmacist knows other medications you are prescribed. The pharmacist may have a record of any allergies you have to medications. The pharmacist may also have a record of health conditions that you have. Using one pharmacy allows your pharmacist to review your medication history and health conditions to ensure that new medications are safe for YOU to take before you come to get the medication. The pharmacist may call your prescriber because there is an interaction with another medication. Or the pharmacist may want to remind the prescriber that you have a health condition that requires a different dose or medication. The pharmacist may call the prescriber because the drug and directions fall outside what is normally accepted by the medical community or the approved use of the medication. The first five items from my responsibilities of a pharmacist above have happened behind the scenes and you never even know.

But now you are at the counter to get your prescription. The technician or cashier will verify who you are getting the medication for. This is verifying that the correct patient gets the medication. Then you are told that you need to speak with the pharmacist about your prescription. You just want to leave. It’s been a long day, there are other people waiting in line, you have talked to the prescriber, WHY do I have to wait to talk to the pharmacist?

Remember that the pharmacist has the responsibility for all the items on my earlier list. The pharmacist has a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to ensure that you have the best outcome from taking your medication. The pharmacist will use these last few moments before you leave the pharmacy with the medication to ensure that it’s your medication, that you know how to take it correctly, that you know what to expect, that you don’t have an allergy to this medication, and that it’s the medication that you were expecting. If you don’t usually fill your medications at this pharmacy, the pharmacist may make sure you don’t have any health conditions or take other medications that could interfere with this new medication. In this few moments before you leave the pharmacy, the pharmacist is doing their final check that you are going to be safe taking this newly written prescription. Just remember that this is why the pharmacist wants to talk with you about your prescription!

If you have any questions about your medications or health conditions, feel free to stop by and see me at Sparta Drug Center! Pharmacy Chicks out!     


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