Pharmacists: Medication Advice
Pharmacists Provide Medication Advice
It is evident that many Americans are taking prescription drugs. Statistics from the CDC website show that almost half of the population in the United States has used at least one prescription medication in the previous 30 days.(1) Furthermore, almost 22% of the population has used at least three prescription medications in the previous 30 days, and about 11% have used five or more prescription medications in the same time period.
- But how many people take time to ask their pharmacist questions when picking up a medication?
- Or how many people actually sit down with their pharmacist and have a one-on-one conversation about every prescription drug and over the counter medication they are taking?
In my experience, not enough people are taking advantage of the services and advice pharmacists can provide.
I love when patients have questions about their medications. As a pharmacist, I find this part of my job to be very rewarding, especially when I can help identify solutions to my patients’ problems. For example, I once saw a patient who had multiple inhalers for his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Even though he had all of the proper medications at home, his symptoms were still not getting better. After speaking with the patient in person I realized that he was not using his inhalers correctly. There are several different types of inhalers and the devices can be confusing to use. I was able to teach the patient how to use each of his various inhaler devices properly and to reassure him that the medications should help improve his breathing. Following our visit, the patient’s symptoms began to improve because he was able to review his medications with me.
Too often patients do not speak up when they have concerns.
In my experience, I have seen patients too embarrassed to ask questions because they think their question is silly or their problem is something they just “need to learn to live with.” I have seen patients with multiple grocery bags full of medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and herbal medications. When this happens I frequently see that many of the medications are expired and/or there are multiple different unidentified pills mixed in a single bottle. Keeping medications for extended periods of time, combing pills, and not discarding medications after they are discontinued by a doctor can be dangerous. To help avoid this I believe all patients should review their medications with their pharmacist on an annual basis. They will be able to identify medications that are duplicates, that are expired, or that may be causing a side effect. Your pharmacist may work in a clinic, or you can speak with your community pharmacist where you fill your medications. Either way, having a thorough medication review on a regular basis will help keep ensure that you are receiving the best medication therapies possible while avoiding unnecessary side effects and drug interactions.
Speak with your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about your medications.
If you would like your community pharmacist to review all of your medications, ask if the pharmacist is able to set up an appointment. Not all community pharmacies offer appointment-based services, but more pharmacies are offering these services every day. If your pharmacy does not offer appointment-based services, you can still ask your pharmacist to review your medications with you!
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Health, United States, 2015: With Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus15.pdf#079
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