Next to your doctor, your pharmacist is perhaps the most important member of your health care team. He or she is specially trained to help you get the benefits of your medicine while reducing possible risks. And today, National Pharmacist Day, we have an opportunity to say “thank you” for everything they do to support our overall health.
How Pharmacists Protect You
While you may not always take advantage of their expertise, it is comforting to know that pharmacists are watching out for you. Every pharmacist has undergone extensive education (at least six years) to understand how the human body uses and responds to medicines. They are also trained to counsel consumers on how to take medications safely.
As medication experts, pharmacists check each prescription to help ensure that:
- The information provided by your doctor or other prescriber is complete.
- Any new medication will not interact with anything else that they know you are taking.
- The medication and dosage is safe with any medical conditions that they are aware you may have.
- You understand how to take and store the medication properly.
If you are receiving care (and prescriptions) from multiple health professionals, it is usually best to use the same pharmacy for all your prescription services. Having your medication records all in one place lets your pharmacist check for possible interactions or risks, and cuts the chances of duplicating medicine.
Your pharmacist is also a resource to answer questions or advise you on other aspects of your health and medicines, such as:
- Warn you of possible harmful drug interactions or allergies.
- Tell you about potential side effects.
- Advise you on foods, drinks, or activities to avoid while taking a certain medication, or on what to do if you miss a dose.
- Tell you when a concern you’ve raised requires a call to your doctor.
- Answer questions about taking over-the-counter medications including possible interactions with current prescription drugs or health conditions.
And finally, one big reason to be thankful for your local pharmacist—availability! With the advent of 24 hour pharmacies, you can often pick up the phone and call your pharmacist to ask a question when you may not be able to reach your doctor.
Learn more about taking medication correctly and safety with our medication guide.
Your Pharmacist: A Partner in Drug Safety