The newly expanded role of pharmacists in Canada to help manage the health of patients can benefit both patients and physicians, according to an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The article, written by a physician and a pharmacist, summarizes the opportunities for collaborative care and how physicians can work with pharmacists.
Pharmacists in Canada have recently been given broader responsibilities, including in some provinces, prescribing privileges, ability to order and interpret laboratory tests, and ability to vaccinate and inject medications. Pharmacists in other countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand are also increasingly involved in collaborative care arrangements.
"As pharmacists more actively participate in medication management, physicians should be aware that in interprofessional models of care, every member of the team is accountable for the care he or she provides and is not to be held directly liable for the acts of others," write Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy, Université de Montréal and Dr. Ross Tsuyuki, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta.
Because more than 10% of visits to emergency departments are for drug-related problems, collaboration can help reduce the number of drug??"drug interactions and avoid visits to the emergency department. Pharmacists, who have specialized expertise in drug dosing, drug interactions, pharmacology and related areas, can help physicians manage safe prescribing in complex (often elderly) patients taking 5 or more drugs. They can also help in tapering patients off medications.
"Once established, collaborative care with pharmacists will likely yield tremendous benefits to both patients and physicians. The expanding scope of pharmacists' practice offers many opportunities to improve patient care. However, it is also an ongoing process that must be evaluated as regulated activities change, new pharmacists enter practice and scopes of activities continue to expand," the authors conclude.