If you're like most people, you didn't choose a pharmacist, you chose a pharmacy for your medication needs. Your pharmacist is a very important part of your health care team and should be chosen carefully. In between doctor visits, your pharmacist can be an important resource for you. This is especially true if you are using multiple medications or need help with products such as blood glucose meters, asthma inhalers, or other special care items.
Some key questions to ask when choosing a pharmacist include:
-- Does the pharmacist take time to answer your questions in a manner that you understand?
-- Does the pharmacist tell you about each new medication and explain such things as how and when to take the medication and what you can and cannot take with it?
-- Does the pharmacist have any special training in disease management, such as a certified asthma counselor?
How To Read A Prescription
Most prescriptions are made up of Latin abbreviations. The following is a short list of some of the more common ones and what they mean:
po take by mouth
QD take once a day
BID take two times a day
TID take three times a day
QID take four times a day
q12h take every 12 hours
q4-6h take every 4 to 6 hours
prn as needed or if needed
pc after a meal
ac before a meal
as left ear
ad right ear
ou both eyes
od right eye
os left eye
-- Does the pharmacist show concern for you and your family?
-- Does the pharmacist recommend vitamins or supplements to take or tell you which ones you should NOT take with your prescriptions?
If your current pharmacist doesn't meet your needs or doesn't take the necessary time to make sure that you understand your medications, visit other pharmacies and ask if the pharmacist has any special certifications or training. Find out if the pharmacy has any special services that they can offer you such as demonstrating a new inhaler. See if you can find a pharmacist that is easy to talk to, yet shows concern and is able to explain what you need to know as a consumer of both prescription medications and vitamin supplements.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PHARMACY
Where your family pharmacist works should also be an important consideration when deciding where your medication needs are going to take place. Most people taking medications visit a pharmacy monthly and should consider several factors when choosing which pharmacy to patronize.
Convenience is an important issue with all of the time pressures that people feel these days. The pharmacy should be in a convenient location with convenient parking nearby. If you are unable to get to the pharmacy, the pharmacy should make sure that your prescriptions are mailed to your home or delivered to your home or work. Having the ability to open a charge account or have a credit card kept on file for charging prescriptions is a convenient feature, especially when you are on a trip or someone else is picking up the prescription for you.
The pharmacy may offer any special services that set them apart from the other pharmacies. You might be interested in special packaging to make it easier to remember to take your medications. If you have diabetes, finding a pharmacy that can demonstrate several glucose monitors to find which one works best for you can make testing your blood sugar easier. Some pharmacies also have the ability to "download" the readings off of your diabetes monitor and print them out for you. This will help both you and your doctor control your diabetes. Ask if the pharmacy can measure your "Alc" level to check your long-term glucose control.
Look for a pharmacy that offers a private counseling area so you can ask personal questions without being overheard. Other conveniences that should be taken into account include a toll-free phone number to use if you live out-of-town or are on vacation. Ordering refills over the Internet is something new that many progressive pharmacies now offer. Many times, you can also look up health information on the pharmacies' web sites as well.
It's a good idea to get all of your prescriptions filled at a single pharmacy. The pharmacy keeps a complete medication profile on you. These profiles record all medications that you are taking, health problems, and drug allergies that you have told your pharmacist about. By going to one pharmacy, your pharmacist will be able to continuously update your patient profile -- making sure all the information is accurate. This will help avoid problems that occur when some medications are mixed.
With a little effort, you should be able to find a pharmacy that will be your partner in your goal living a healthful life.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.