Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Praise of Local Pharmacists

Work at endearing yourself 
to your pharmacist.

by Leon Liberman, exclusively for LifeLube
Read more from Leon here.

Whether we do it or not, we know what should be done to keep ourselves in the best possible working order.  Keep doctor appointments, take medication as instructed, exercise, eat sensibly and hope for the best. 

We trust our health care providers and seldom if ever question them.  If we see more than one doctor and most of us at my age of 78 do it’s important that all of those who treat us be made aware of the advice given and results of tests done.

I recently gave my primary physician the results of blood tests done by my specialty care one.  After reviewing the results, he determined that since my good cholesterol level was low, it should be medically treated, something that the specialty care doctor did not recommend.  Niaspan was prescribed.

I dutifully filled the prescription and read the enclosed information about the drug.  I was to take an aspirin a half-hour before taking Niaspan.

I take Plavix, a bloodthinner, and remembered that I had been told not to take aspirin if using it.  I called the specialty care physician to find out if Niaspan would interfere with any other medication I was taking and about taking aspirin.  The specialty care physician is associated with a respected Chicago treatment facility. 

That’s when the fun or, better said, lack of it began.

A recorded message gave me a list of options from which to choose, none of them relative to my call.  Finally, I was offered the option of pressing 0 to speak with a nurse which I did.  Another recorded message told me that my call could not be answered at that time and I was asked to leave a message which I also did.  I explained my reason for calling and asked that my call be returned as quickly as possible.  It was not returned that day or the following one. 

I called a second time and left the same message.  My calls still were not returned.

Out of desperation, I called my Walgreens pharmacist, Swarup Mehta who was a recent AIDS Legal Council of Chicago Advocate of the Year Award winner (pictured above).  He did something almost unknown today.  He answered the telephone.  I told Swarup my concern and he said that he would speak to my doctor and get back to me which he did.  He told me that the doctor was not overly concerned about my low good cholesterol level and advised me not to take Niaspan and aspirin because I was taking Plavix.

The pharmacist agreed with the specialty doctor’s decision.  A potentially dangerous reaction was avoided and I went out to worry-free shop Macy’s first one-day sale of the New Year.

We know that are doctors are not always immediately available when needed.  They have other patients to accomodate, emergencies arise and even have been known to take vacations.  We’re also at the mercy of recorded messages and menu choices. 

Because they provide the prescription drugs, pharmacists are familiar with our conditions, know about drug interaction and have preferred access to our doctors.  They help in resolving prescription-related insurance problems and can recommend less expensive generic brands and even over the counter substitutes, all with the approval of doctors. 

Doctors I have learned respect pharmacists and even depend upon them for their contribution to the welfare of their patients.

The doctor/pharmacist relationship is teamwork at its best.

Work at endearing yourself to your pharmacist.  Let him or her know how much you depend on the skill and caring.  We need our pharmacist in our corner.

1 comment:

  1. Spreadsheet.
    Keeping a spreadsheet with a column for each medication, supplement, etc. for recording the time and amount of each dose reassures so that everything is taken according to the instructions.

    Package inserts.
    A good source of futher information, ask a pharmacist for package inserts from the pharmaceutical companies for the medications.

    Bag everything for a review.
    Bring a bag with all prescriptions, over the counter medications, supplements around the house to a pharmacist and review the combinations with the pharmacist.


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