View Full Version : To what extent can a pharmacist give me advice, and are they obliged?
01-22-2006, 12:37 PM
I know pharmacists have extensive educations and can be a treasure trove of advice. Today, I had a few symptoms and couldn't figure out what to take, so on a whim, I went and asked the pharmacist. She came out and asked me what my symptoms were and scanned the entire medicine aisle before settling on a cocktail of acetaminophen, guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine. I thought it was very nice of her and she seemed glad to do it.
But I was wondering to what extent she could give such advice. What would she do if I looked absolutely terrible. "Here, take this and go see a doctor." ? To what extent is she responsible if she recommends a medicine for me and I turn out to be allergic to it? What if I was a mother with a sick baby and asked for advice? Are there guidelines that they must follow for this sort of thing? Are they obliged to give such advice, or is it just a complimentary service that some grocery stores provide?
01-22-2006, 12:58 PM
I'm not a pharmacist, but my sister is. She will be back in town tomorrow, I'll point her here and write up any reply she gives me. I expect it varies from state to state.
01-22-2006, 01:27 PM
It depends on what state you're in. According to this article, (http://www.acponline.org/college/pressroom/drug_therapy.htm) "As many as 24 states have passed legislation expanding the role of pharmacists to include authority to issue refills, initiate medication regimens or to change a patient's medication." This is officially opposed by the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM). While they acknowledge that pharmacists under strict supervision of doctors might have some legitimate opportunities for recommending drugs in a hopsital setting, in a drugstore they should be limited to verifying dr.'s scrips, identifying drug interactions, dispensing drugs and educating consumers on the effects and proper dosing of taking meds.
So, according to ACP-ASIM, your pharmacists should not have recommended anything specific to you. In doing so, she both diagnosed and prescribed, which are outside of what they think her scope of practice should be. What your state thinks may be another matter, and can be found out by checking with your state's Department of Professional Regulation. Most of them have their documents on-line.
Duck Duck Goose
01-22-2006, 01:43 PM
I'm a pharmacy technician, at a Walgreens, in Illinois.
Where I am, the pharmacists routinely provide consultations and advice on what over-the-counter medicine to get for physical conditions that come under the broad general heading of "colds and flu", and also things like palliatives for earaches, itchy feet, burns, weird rashes, you name it. And no, they're not obligated to provide this, but they (and Corporate Walgreens) pride themselves on their ability to do so. It's called "Service". ;)
But all of them are quite aware of where the lines are drawn, medically speaking, and someone who asks questions about conditions that seem more serious, such as a baby who won't stop vomiting or coughing, or about things like diabetes and stroke, or a serious burn or a really evil-looking rash, is going to be told briskly, "You need to talk to your doctor about that."
Also, the pharmacists here will not tell you how much children's cold or cough medicine to give a baby under the age of 2. The labels all say, "Under 2--check with your doctor", and that's what the pharmacist will tell you. If the label doesn't give specific dosages for an infant, you'll get no information from the pharmacist.
My observation is that the mothers with sick babies tend to be told more often, "Consult your own doctor on that", than do the grownups. There's such a small margin for error on the babies, and the pharmacists are acutely aware of this.
But if you do walk in with a really horrible cough, chances are good you'll be told to get thee to a doctor, pronto.
01-22-2006, 02:19 PM
I would imagine that the point where they think OTC medication isn't going to help is the point at which you will be directed to a doctor.
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