Perhaps the most important role that a pharmacist can assume for patients in chronic pain is to advocate for those whom we observe to have a clearly ineffective treatment plan.
By virtue of our accessibility, we regularly encounter circumstances in which patients complain of pain. In many of these instances, it is likely that a physician may simply be unaware that a patient finds the treatment plan ineffective. Such situations present an opportunity to show patients that we are more than good listeners; we can show patients and physicians alike that pharmacist intervention can make a difference.
As for the patient mentioned above, although I didn’t make any new friends at the practice, I think I earned the trust of the patient.
Incidentally, upon her referral to the local hospital-affiliated, outpatient pain-management clinic, a new care plan was quickly devised for her. Her situation made it very easy to determine the legitimacy of her pain issues, which also made the decision to advocate for her very easy.
Unfortunately, with many other patients, circumstances are not nearly so clear. Sometimes the best we can do is to act upon a hunch.