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Many benefits to using a single pharmacy

Published 10:46pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

By Charity Strothers

All too often, I see the results of patients utilizing multiple pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.

Although the incentives pharmacies offer for transferring a prescription may be appealing, I wonder if the patients understand the risks of prescriptions at multiple pharmacies.

Your pharmacist holds the medication history most pertinent to your health. It is vital that all current and past medication histories stay together to achieve effective and optimal drug therapies. This is especially imperative for a patient taking numerous medications from different prescribers.

Many doctors’ offices and healthcare facilities have implemented electronic medical charts to increase continuity in care. This is proving to be very helpful. But even though technology is making patients’ medical charts more accessible, there is still room for disconnect.

Consider, for instance, a patient who is prescribed medication by an internist. Perhaps three weeks later that patient then goes to the dentist and is prescribed another medication. If those prescriptions were filled at two different pharmacies, it could be impossible for the pharmacist to detect a potentially dangerous drug interaction. A medical error could be innocently created, and a patient’s healthcare could be compromised.

Even discriminating between the side effects of a medication and new symptoms of the underlying condition can be harder if your pharmacist doesn’t know about all of the medications you are taking. An incomplete medication profile may cause your pharmacist to make recommendations based on the information that is available.

Often doctors change the dosage of medications — how often they are taken, the times they are to be taken and the strengths. I have met patients at the pharmacy who could not recall if they were taking a 20 mg tablet twice a day or once a day. In some instances, they have prescriptions that are written in a per-dose format.

These may appear to be minor errors. However, even minor errors could lead to ineffective therapy.

It is important for all of your medications to be listed together so your pharmacist can have a complete and accurate representation of your medication history. This allows your pharmacist to catch drug utilization reactions. It also aids in determining the course of action with drug therapies.

Your pharmacist may recommend that your doctor alter your dosage, change medication or discontinue a drug therapy altogether.

Nothing can fully safeguard against medical or medication errors.

Patronizing one pharmacy versus having several prescriptions filled at different pharmacies is essential for maximizing effective drug therapy.

Charity Strothers is a professional pharmacy student at Hampton University. Email her at cbstrothers@vwc.edu.

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