Pharmacists can have a positive impact by identifying and helping patients in pain.
Pharmacists can have a positive impact by identifying and helping patients in pain. Knowing patients and their ailments is essential when recommending OTC pain relievers for short-term use or when assessing complex chronic pain-management therapy.
Many patients are hesitant to ask their provider questions regarding pain-related issues, as pain is something you “cannot see.” Pain-management scales are useful tools, but this health concern remains difficult to properly diagnose. Often, patients who are experiencing acute pain elect to self-medicate with OTC agents without professional recommendation or adequate knowledge. Some patients who suffer from painful, chronic conditions will control their episodes by adjusting their prescribed medications without provider knowledge or by self-treating undesirable adverse effects (AEs) from pain medications.
By being approachable and acting as a cornerstone of trust within the community, the pharmacist can play a key role in educating patients suffering from any type of pain. The pharmacy team can help improve patient quality of life by helping patients understand more about their specific condition, treatment options, AEs, and optimal medical management.
Incorporating Professional Pain Management
EA is a 55-year-old man who has been visiting your pharmacy over the past several years to have prescriptions filled. You know from past counseling sessions that he is an office manager for a local downtown company. EA seems to always drop off his prescriptions 1 hour before you close and can be impatient. Based on transfer records, you understand he uses multiple pharmacies in the surrounding area. He has a history of back pain, headaches, arthritis, and depression. You review EA’s profile and note your concerns about adherence.
When EA comes to the counter to collect his prescriptions, you ask if he would be interested in participating in a brown bag session. You explain what happens during a brown bag consult and tell EA you are interested in reviewing his medications with him. EA appreciates the opportunity to talk with you in depth, one on one. He confesses that he “never even thought the pharmacist could help him” and that he thought we were just there to “count pills.” He even apologizes for dropping off his refills “so last minute” and now understands why the pharmacy is not a place to “rush.” You schedule a time to meet again the next day.
Upon reviewing EA’s current medication profile at your pharmacy, you find the following:
When EA comes in for his scheduled appointment, you notice the following additional medications in his brown bag:
After reviewing EA’s medications, you realize he might benefit from a medication- therapy management (MTM) session and you schedule a follow-up appointment. An MTM session will allow you to further communicate with all of EA’s health care providers, obtain lab values, and further evaluate EA’s medical goals. In the meantime, you have some questions and suggestions surrounding his medications:
Dr. Drury works as a clinical pharmacy specialist in Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned her doctor of pharmacy from Midwestern University College of Pharmacy. Her blog, Compounding in the Kitchen, an innovative amalgam of pharmacy and cooking, appears on www.PharmacyTimes .com/blogs/compounding-in-the-kitchen. Read, and enjoy!