The Pharmacist as a Life-Saver


A pharmacist is a healthcare professional licensed to mix, compound, dispense and sell medications to patients. Pharmacists also perform in the capacity to provide patient care by counselling them and providing information on their medications to ensure they use them safely and effectively.

Though the roles of a pharmacist are not limited to the above, it is most essential is to help patients understand everything related to their drugs, as well as improving therapeutic outcome.

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Pharm. Ayodeji Oni

Life-saving interventions are carried out by pharmacists in hospital and community practice on a daily basis to ensure better therapeutic outcome for patients. Some include:

* interpreting prescriptions for proper use of medicine,

* providing advice on storage, interactions with other drugs, food or even lifestyle,

* carrying out extemporaneous preparations of medicines especially for children

* recommending lifestyle changes to help improve management of chronic conditions

* providing advice on how to improve compliance to medicines, for example suggesting pill boxes to those with long term illnesses or advice on swallowing techniques with those who find it difficult to comply as a result of swallowing difficulties.

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Profile and professionalism

A licensed pharmacist must be smart, well groomed and polite, ready to serve his or her patients with optimum knowledge on all drug related conditions. They must carry out the basic WWHAMA questioning acronym to ensure a holistic counselling session. They must inquire Who is taking  the drug, What symptoms are being experienced, How long have the symptoms existed, Actions taken from the inception of the symptoms, Medications taken thus far and Allergies the patients have. This helps chart the course for proper advice to ensure therapeutic effectiveness.

Other basic services expected of a pharmacist include proper labelling of medicines to ensure the issue of overdose is averted. Other issues, such as seeking cost-effective alternatives, are the concerns of the pharmacist. For example, the choice of exchanging a high-priced branded antibiotic with a lower priced alternative should be at the discretion of a pharmacist. A pharmacist would provide cost-effective alternatives that have equivalent effectiveness with its brand substitute.

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The pharmacist should always provide ample knowledge on medications to patients before they leave the pharmacy. Necessary information includes:

Dosage regimen



Route of administration

Mode of storage

A pharmacist can equally can carry out services to help check for vital signs to monitor chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or hyperlipidaemia.

Confidentiality and accessibility

The pharmacist must always engage patients in a well-equipped consulting room. This is especially necessary in community practice and makes the patient more comfortable to explain private health issues for the pharmacist’s intervention. There must also be patient-pharmacist confidentiality that enables the patient give private information without the fear of being embarrassed or exposed to the public.

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A pharmacist must be easily accessible.  In cases where too many drugs (more than five prescription drugs) are taken at once by the patient (polypharmacy), the pharmacist can help to carry out medicine use review. This will help the patient escape the risks of drug interaction, adverse drug reactions and improve compliance.

Access to pharmacists has become easier through the introduction of the CareHub App – an online platform, with pharmacists available to answer patients’ entire drug-related concerns on the go. All the patient needs is to simply download the app, register and ask his or her questions. They will be immediately attended to by a professional. Talk about having your pharmacist at your fingertips!

By Pharm. Ayodeji Oni

(Freelancing for Advantage Health Africa)


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