Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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?


  1. FYI pharmacists are doctors. Their degree is pharmD, doctor of pharmacy. They study how the meds work for different diagnoses, med interactions. They MUST know their stuff inside and out. It is their job to be overall patient advocates, to check the MDs work and inform them if their may be a bad interaction between diff meds. Those MDs may think they are gods, but they are not, they work 36 hr shifts and are under constant pressures to perform and stay awake. They miss tons of stuff and get into tons of trouble. Check and see how many malpractice suits are brought before a court for MDs and check that of pharmDs. Please be informed before posting such nonsense. If you are worried about privacy, file a HIPPAA suit against the pharmacist or pharmacy. These days I've seen areas for counseling @ the pharmacy and the front of the line being pretty far away from the counseling.

  2. Sznn, does that mean lawyers are doctors because their degree is JD (juris doctor)? No way. A PharmD is entitled to be addressed as Dr. Jones, but a doctor is a physician. Pharmacists are not physicians. I fully agree more malpractice suits should be brought against pharmacists. I'll be happy to testify for the plaintiff.