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Category Archives: Pharmacy Services

As a result of new regulations governing the practice of pharmacy in Ontario, pharmacists are now able to be more deeply involved in your medications and management of your medical conditions. The new regulations came into effect last October allowing pharmacists to make use of their unique knowledge. This is great news for both pharmacists and you, their patients. It will allow pharmacists to be an even more integral part of your medication management and it will provide you with greater convenience as pharmacists are easily accessible in the community.

There are five main areas that these changes will affect:

  1. Pharmacists can prescribe several effective medications to help you quit smoking. Patients who may wish to try this method of quitting can now be assessed by their pharmacist – who will use their professional judgement to decide if it is right for you. This means that you will not have to wait to see your doctor in order to get on the path to becoming smoke-free and the pharmacist can be involved throughout this sometimes difficult process.
  1. Pharmacists may be able to renew your prescriptions without you having to see your doctor first. Your condition and your medications must be stable. For example, this may apply to patients who have well-managed chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. (This new regulation does not apply to narcotics and similar substances and does not eliminate the need to see your doctor for proper followup and monitoring).
  2. Pharmacists may also make certain changes/ adaptations to your doctor’s prescription if necessary based on professional judgement. For example, they may change the dosage form (tablet/capsule/liquid) or they could alter the dosing regimen and possibly even the dose to suit you better. As always, any changes would be done with your consent and the pharmacist would share them with your doctor.
  1. Pharmacists can now be of even greater assistance in helping to demonstrate how to use your devices. If you are a patient who uses an inhaler or has self-administered injections, your pharmacist can now use the real device to show you how to use it, rather than using a model one. Pharmacists who are able to administer injections in order to teach you how to use them have completed a training program.
  1. Specially trained pharmacists can administer the flu vaccine to patients five years and older. This will provide patients with more locations and greater ease of access to the vaccine.

As usual, your pharmacist will make these decisions based on your specific situation, so it is very important to give them as much information about yourself as you can. They need to know about all of the medications you are taking, including anything over-the-counter or any vitamins/minerals that you use. Also it is important to talk to your pharmacist about your lifestyle (eg. the foods you eat and the exercise you do) so they can get the full picture in order to make the best decisions for you

Pharmacists have always been a wonderful source of information and support for patients regarding how to best manage their medicines and their medical conditions. Now that the role of pharmacists has expanded to allow them to have more involvement with their patients, it will be easier than ever for patients to maintain good control of their conditions and medications. 

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It is time to start thinking about getting the Flu vaccine. There will be flu shot clinics offered in the local area in the upcoming weeks that anyone can go to. Often these clinics are underutilized. There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the flu vaccine and who should be immunized.

Each year an average of 20,000 people are hospitalized, and between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians can die of influenza and its complications. Those most likely to suffer complications of the flu are the most vulnerable; children under two and adults over 65. The seasonal influenza vaccine is safe and effective and can benefit people of all ages. The flu shot only provides protection up to 12 months; immunization is required each year. This year’s flu shot protects against the H1N1 flu virus as well as two other strains of flu. October to mid-November is the best time for immunization, but the vaccine may still be given in winter months.

Who should get immunized? The following is a list from the recommended guidelines.

People at high risk of influenza-related complications, including:

  •  Adults and children with chronic conditions such as:
  • – Cardiac or lung disorders such as asthma

    – Diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases
    – Cancer, immunodeficiency, immunosuppression
    -Renal disease
    -Anemia
     

  • Children and adolescents with conditions treated for long periods with aspirin
  • All residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
  • Seniors aged 65 years or older
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 6 months to 23 months of age
  • Persons who are morbidly obese
  • Aborigional peoples

People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of complications, including:

  • Health care and other care providers
  • Household contacts of those at high risk and to infants less than six months
  • Members of a household expecting a newborn during flu season
  • Women at all stages of pregnancy or breastfeeding mothers
  • Those providing regular child care to children 0-23 months
  • Those who provide services within closed settings to persons at high risk

Others

  • People who provide essential community services
  • People in direct contact with avian influenza infected poultry
  • Healthy people aged 5-64 years should consider getting the vaccine even if they are not in one of the above groups

The list of those who should receive the vaccine is extensive. If you have had an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine or one of its components you should not get the vaccine. Or, if you have an allergy to eggs you should discuss getting the vaccine with your health care practitioner. However, it has been shown that egg-allergic individuals may be vaccinated using the TIV vaccine.

Children 6 months to less than 9 years who have never received the seasonal flu vaccine require two doses, with a minimum of four weeks between doses.

Please remember that the flu shot cannot cause the flu. If you have become sick after getting the shot in the past it was a coincidental infection of some other kind. The main side effect is pain and redness at the site of injection for a day or two afterward.

The flu shot is effective. Scientific studies show the effectiveness of the flu shot to range from 70% to 90%.

Adults over 65 should also look in to getting the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcal disease, a common complication of influenza, is a bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, bacteremia (a bloodstream infection) and pneumonia. You can get this vaccine at the same time as the flu shot through your doctor.

To date you must get your flu shot through your doctor or the flu shot clinics in the area. At some point in the near future this vaccine may become available to be given by your pharmacist who will be trained to give injections.

If you have any questions about any of the above information please call or visit your local pharmacy.

 

 

Many people may be unaware of the services provided by a pharmacy.  Young healthy individuals may have little reason to require help from their pharmacies.  However, I assure you, if you have a grandparent, child, or member of your family that is unwell, you will require a pharmacist’s services.

Pharmacists and technicians are the unsung heroes of healthcare.  Much of what we do goes unnoticed and unappreciated.  This may be because we don’t ask for payment for many of these services.  This does not mean these services are of no value.

Let me walk you through the day of a typical pharmacy so you can see why we are so concerned if the government goes ahead with proposed funding cuts to pharmacy.

The phone will typically start ringing a half hour before the store opens.  At nine a.m. the store is inundated with phone calls from customers and patients requiring a prescription to be filled ASAP for someone who was in emergency over night.  Patients may need their pain pills or anti-nausea medication filled because they have been sick through the night.

Doctors will start calling in prescriptions for their patients.  Patients will call asking for advice about their medications that their doctor had no time to answer.  Many patients call because they can’t get in to see their family doctor for weeks and they need advice about their medical conditions.  Some want to know about drug interactions.  Concerned family members will call asking about whether certain medications could be causing possible side effects.  Many calls involve questions about where to find available health care.

At the same time all new prescriptions called in by MDs need to be taken by the pharmacist as well as checked before being handed out.  Issues with third party payers need to be resolved.  Sometimes this involves a phone call to insurance companies to determine the intricacies of a patient’s drug plan.

Patients come in all throughout the day to ask health care questions.  “What cough medication is safe for diabetics?”  “Can I take this antihistamine if I have high blood pressure?”  “What do I do if my infant is constipated?”

Seniors having trouble managing their many medications have their medications blister packed and delivered for free every week.  The pharmacy fills all of these and often manages refills by contacting the patient’s doctor so they don’t have to worry about being out of their medications.

Patients diagnosed with diabetes can come at any time and be trained by a pharmacist on how to use their blood glucose monitor.  If they have been given a prescription for insulin a pharmacist will instruct the patient how to use the insulin pen.

Anyone needing legal documents signed can have this done by a pharmacist with no charge.

Faxes are sent to physicians for no charge, even though doctors often charge patient’s for receiving and refilling patient’s medication in this way.

Health and wellness clinics for osteoporosis, cholesterol, women’s health issues etc. are held on a consistent basis at no charge to the patient.

Deliveries are made, sometimes a half hour away from the store at no charge to the patient.

After the last prescription is filled the pharmacist may go home for the day.  Sometimes they get a phone call in the middle of the night for an emergency.  i.e. a child with cancer has vomited their last dose of medication.  The pharmacist will come back to the store and open for the distraught parent at no charge or cost to the patient.

We don’t charge for these services because pharmacists consider it their duty and privilege to help the people in their community.  In the past we have been able to provide these services at no charge and continue to run a successful business.  However, if the governments proposed funding cuts go through this will no longer be the case.

You may be unaware of all of the services pharmacy now provides for free.  Unfortunately it is going to become shockingly clear the next time you have to pay for them.