In April, I wrote about Molly's mom ["The stroke that shouldnât have been," April 2016], who began cutting her blood-pressure medication dose from the prescribed once per day to every other day and eventually to every third day, because she could not afford the drug. After several months, Molly's mom had a stroke. Until that happened, no one â not her doctor, pharmacist, or family â noticed that refills were increasingly delayed.
Several Drug Topics readers wrote to me about that article. The responses from pharmacists and pharmacy technicians were essentially the same. All agreed that Molly's mom deserved better treatment from her healthcare providers.
Some attributed more responsibility to the physician, but no one excused the pharmacy staff completely. Many offered reasons that the pharmacists in their own pharmacies would not or could not have responded earlier to Molly's mom. Almost all those reasons had to do with not having the time to review patient profiles. Many commented on their management's demand for more efficiency from their pharmacy personnel.
Change is needed
Those who responded seemed to agree that there is a gap between their ethical duty to act as a risk manager for the patient and the practical need to keep up with a workflow that demands faster performance, by less staff, of the mechanical duties associated with dispensing increasing numbers of prescriptions.
Most respondents appeared to look forward to some change in the workflow that would enable them to move from being restricted to a limited number of mechanical duties to a higher, more professional level of patient care.
An encouraging theme ran though the messages from these respondents. These pharmacists and technicians expressed a belief that pharmacy should provide help to patients like Molly's mom; we should be able to recognize problems and intervene to help patients take their medications properly and thus reduce the risk of a medical crisis.