How Emotional Intelligence Helps Pharmacists Handle Controlled Substance Concerns

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Pharmacists must uphold their “corresponding responsibility” to address controlled substance concerns among patients while balancing safety and respect, said Mark Garofoli at this year’s American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Prescribing practitioners and pharmacists share the responsibility of ensuring controlled substances are prescribed and dispensed appropriately.

By verifying that controlled substance prescriptions are issued for legitimate medical purposes, pharmacists fulfill their “corresponding responsibility” to identify and address controlled substance concerns among patients. To do so efficiently, pharmacists must know how to identify red flags in patients; just as importantly, they must know how to communicate to patients in a manner that promotes safety and respect.

At this year’s American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting & Exposition, Mark Garofoli, PharmD, MBA, BCGP, CPE, CTTS, director of experiential learning, clinical assistant professor, and clinical pain management pharmacist at West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and West Virginia University Medicine, joined Drug Topics to discuss how pharmacists can recognize red flags in patients and resolve them accordingly.

“In those moments [where we identify a patient with red flags], we really want to check ourselves,” Garofoli said. “We have to proceed knowing that we don’t have all the information—to make an informed decision, we need information.”

Rather than jump to conclusions, fully embark on the pharmacists’ patient care process, Garofoli advised. Have open and empathetic conversations with the patient and any involved prescribers to gain a well-rounded perspective. Then, assess the situation and create a plan to direct the patient to help.

“We have to take that moment when we’re assessing a situation and put ourselves in the situation, put our family members in the situation—whatever works to stop us in our tracks and make us think more,” Garofoli said. “Keep that emotional intelligence readily available all along the way, too.”

Read more of our coverage from the 2024 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition here.

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