Pharmacists are involved in patient care on so many different levels and in such a wide variety of disease categories that it is difficult to single out just one. The month of October celebrates “American Pharmacists Month” in recognition of the fact that pharmacists are a vital component of patient wellness. It is a special time to recognize “the significant contributions to health care and the commitment to patient care by pharmacists in all practice settings from around the country,” according to the American Pharmacists Association, and I cannot agree more.
One of the core goals of American Pharmacists Month is to enhance the image of pharmacists as medication experts and an integral part of the health care team—not just dispensers of medication. Of course, this is also an opportunity to educate the public, other health care professionals, and policymakers about the key role played by pharmacists in reducing overall health care costs and improving patient care.
Diabetes care, in particular, is of vital concern, because it touches so many people from all walks of life. Roughly 2 million Americans have type 1 diabetes (formerly called “juvenile-onset diabetes”), and one notable New Yorker recently drew some attention to this disease. When Sonia Sotomayor, the new Supreme Court justice, was being confirmed, it was revealed that she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 8 years old. Controlling type 1 diabetes is possible, but it takes a lot of work and constant vigilance. Type 2 diabetes has become more prevalent as Americans lack exercise and a healthy diet, and it currently affects a considerable number of people—17 million, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Complications during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) are more likely if the patient has a family history of type 2 diabetes, is overweight, or has high blood pressure—factors that are all too common today. This month’s cover story, “Gestational Diabetes: What Patients Need to Know” on page 40 provides counseling on how to deal with patients who have this disease at such an important time in their lives. Taking all the right steps, with the guidance of a pharmacist, can make all the difference in achieving a healthy outcome for the patient. We bring a wealth of other resources on diabetes in this issue, including the latest on OTC products for patients with diabetes (page 16) and “Insulin and Medication Errors” (page 24), “Preventive Foot Care for Diabetes Patients” (page 50), “LADA: A Little Known Type of Diabetes” (page 42), plus this month’s continuing education (CE) lesson, “Diabetes Management: The Role of the Pharmacist” (page 82).
Pharmacists are helping patients with diabetes across the country cope with their disease with one-on-one counseling, providing advice on medications and new products, and offering lifestyle tips. November is American Diabetes Month, but the door of the pharmacy is open all year long for those in need.
Thank you for reading.
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