Celebrating Pharmacists: A Core Part of Your Health Care Team
October 1, 2013 (WASHINGTON, DC) — October is American Pharmacists Month and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) wants you to “Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine.” The messaging of American Pharmacists Month is based on one essential fact seen in pharmacies, clinics and other care sites every day. The more patients know their pharmacist, the more they will know about their medications—the documented successes and cautionary tales; the risks and benefits; and the potential side effects and contraindications.
Medications are powerful, that’s why they work. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on prescription and over-the-counter medications. If these medications are used incorrectly, the money spent is lost. In fact, the most expensive medications are those that don’t work properly—or cause harm due to misuse. Every year in the U.S., failure to take medications as prescribed causes more than 1.5 million preventable medication-related adverse events and costs the health care system approximately $290 billion. When patients know their pharmacist and feel comfortable seeking the pharmacists’ advice, the likelihood of medication errors occurring decreases substantially.
Your pharmacist and your prescriber are part of a health care team, working to ensure the best selection and management of your prescription and nonprescription medicines. Pharmacists are medication experts on this team and the profession is expanding in new directions to meet the health care needs of all people. Many pharmacists offer a broad array of education, prevention and wellness services to help patients improve their health and get the most out of their medications:
- Annual Medication check-ups to review all medications, including action plan, documentation and follow-up visits as necessary
- Prescription medication education — purpose, interactions, side-effects, timing and dosing of your prescription medications
- Advice on over-the-counter medication, herbal supplements, vitamins or minerals for your condition or lifestyle
- Assistance filling out a personal medication record that includes all medications, immunizations and health care providers
- Medication adherence reminders or counseling on ways to make it easier to take medications
- Seasonal and life-span immunizations
- Diabetes care guidance - continuous blood glucose monitoring, proper insulin injection technique, foot care and eye care
- Health maintenance counseling and guidance - smoking cessation, asthma care, nutrition management, exercise and physical activity instruction, body mass index (BMI) screenings, skin care and dental care
- Healthy heart management and counseling — blood pressure and cholesterol screenings
You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose your doctor. Find a pharmacist that you are comfortable talking with, and one who takes the time to help you with your medications. Ultimately, you have the responsibility for managing your health care, but your pharmacist can help if you keep him or her up-to-date about your health and the medications you are taking. For this reason, it is important to use the same pharmacy for all of your prescription services, especially when seeing multiple health care providers. This ensures that your pharmacist has access to your complete medication history when checking for problems or possible interactions.