Today’s entry will be very short and to the point, since I am on the go. But, it’s a very important piece of advice.
Today, I had a woman call and ask about OTC pain relievers. Before I made my recommendation, I asked her several questions. Are you pregnant? Do you have problems with stomach ulcers? Are you on any prescription pain medications? Do you have liver or kidney problems? The answers were all, “No,” until I asked my final question: “Are you on any blood thinners or anti-platelet medications?”
Turns out she was on warfarin. So, I told her Tylenol (acetaminophen) was the only OTC pain reliever she could take, but even so, she should talk to her physician if she was looking for a long term answer. She then informed me that the one night when the pharmacy was closed, one of the people working the front store recommended ibuprofen to her. I could feel my blood start to boil. Without alerting her of the massive mistake that had happened, I asked her if she took any of the ibuprofen. She said she hadn’t, so I told her to only take the Tylenol and ask her physician for advice on a long term medication. After that, she hung up.
I was so livid after the call ended. Pharmacists are the only ones allowed to give medical advice in a community pharmacy. Pharmacy interns (those currently in pharmacy school) are also allowed to do so under pharmacist supervision. Besides them, no one else should be recommending anything or counseling anyone. This is a prime example of why. Thank goodness she didn’t take any of the ibuprofen. She could have had a major bleed, which would have been a huge liability for the entire store and could have potentially cost this woman her life. When I spoke with my store manager, she agreed to have one on one discussions with each of the people working up front, reminding them WHY all questions should be directed to the pharmacist on duty.
Readers, if you ever have any questions about medications, please come directly to the pharmacy to ask them. Those working up front are not licensed to make recommendations.
Technicians and other pharmacy staff, please use this as a reminder of why it is important to double check with the pharmacist on duty for any and all questions people have. It could make the difference between help and harm.
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