What Does a Consulting Pharmacist Do?
A consulting pharmacist applies expert advice and skills to situations where medications may be prescribed. This profession has origins in long term care facilities, where complex medication needs can arise and have the potential to conflict with underlying health conditions. In addition to working in locations like nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals, a consultant pharmacist can also be employed in hospital environments, retail pharmacies, and insurance companies. These health care professionals identify risks and concerns that may be relevant to a patient on medication.
Members of this subfield of pharmacy are familiar with complex needs, like patients who need to take multiple medications and adjustments that may need to be made to accommodate liver or kidney impairment. A consulting pharmacist may look out for specific safety concerns like medication conflicts or side effects that could be causing problems with medication tolerance. The job can also include working with patients to increase compliance with tools like more understandable labeling and packaging that is easier for older adults to open.
Medical professionals may request assistance from a consulting pharmacist when they develop and administer long term therapies, to make sure a patient’s needs are met. In facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, consulting pharmacists are available when there are questions about which medication to use, dosing, and unusual side effects. They can also make protocol recommendations, like advice on clear labeling for intravenous lines with potentially hazardous or toxic medications. Pharmacists review orders for medication to make sure they are appropriate and may raise questions about dosage or drug if they think there might be a mistake.
At an insurance company, a consulting pharmacist can participate in drug review to determine whether medications should be covered and under which circumstances. In special cases where a medication may be indicated but not routinely covered, this medical expert can discuss the situation with care providers to determine how to proceed. Patient compliance can also be a concern, as this may cost the company money in the long term. The consulting pharmacist can review patient records to determine if a patient is following a medication regimen as recommended and may work with care providers to get the patient into compliance if there is a problem.
This work can involve direct patient interactions as well as advocacy for patients. Consulting pharmacists need to be able to interact with health care providers including doctors, nurses, and pharmacy staff. Clear communication skills are valuable, as is the ability to be decisive in emergencies. Pharmacists are an important part of the safety net for patients and must be able to speak up if they think the wrong medication is being prescribed or a dosage is inappropriate.
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