Pharmacists front-line defenders against Ebola anxieties

October 22, 2014

As fears of the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases rise, pharmacists will undoubtedly be called upon to provide patients with public health information and referrals to appropriate care, according to the American Pharmacists Association.

As fears of the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases rise, pharmacists will undoubtedly be called upon to provide patients with public health information and referrals to appropriate care, according to the American Pharmacists Association.

"Over 270 million Americans visit a pharmacy every week, making pharmacists an accessible healthcare provider to help patients assess their particular health situation,” said Thomas E. Menighan, APhA’s CEO. “The current public health concern is a lesson for all healthcare providers, including pharmacists, who may be the first to encounter a patient with symptoms that are consistent with a particular infectious disease. Asking the right questions provides the pharmacist with the opportunity to counsel and refer patients to appropriate care.” 

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In many cases, pharmacists are the most-assessable healthcare providers to encourage patients to get their annual flu shots, learn proper hand washing techniques, or answer questions about lingering illnesses, Menighan said.

 

He said pharmacists will also play an important role in providing assurance as fears, justified or not, rise concerning Ebola, enterovirus D68, influenza, and other transmittable diseases. “As public anxiety about Ebola and other infectious diseases rise in the United States, pharmacists will be both vigilant and reassuring as we continue to serve the public health needs of our communities," Menighan said.

APhA has provided its members with the CDC guidelines for treating patients with many infectious diseases, including Ebola and enterovirus D68. Read them here.