Pharmacists Gone Wild

(Facts altered to disguise cases.)

  • A patient relates that her pharmacist told her if the increased dose of her medication failed to produce improvement in her symptoms after 21 days at the higher dose, she should revert back to the original dose.
  • A pharmacist faxes me to ask the diagnosis of a patient, even though the patient pays cash for the prescription, and there is not insurance company involvement.
  • A pharmacist tells a patient that a drug I frequently prescribe can be very sedating, when in fact most patients complain that it does not sedate them enough.
Everyone seems to want to play doctor these days, but how much do we want pharmacists to get into that role? There is something to be said for having each of every patient's diagnoses accessible from the pharmacy data bank. For example, it might prevent an asthmatic patient from using a potentially fatal beta blocker. But can we trust them with psychiatric or substance use disorder diagnoses? My patients already complain about pharmacists talking about such diagnoses where other customers can hear.

The first item above appears to clearly involve exceeding the boundaries of a pharmacist's competence and authority. This probably has happened as long as their have been pharmacists, but does the current climate encourage non-physicians to take liberties, possibly to the detriment of patients?

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