What Is Pharmaceutical Care?

S. Berger

Pharmaceutical care is a concept seen in medicine, where drugs are provided to individuals in order to improve their quality of life by accomplishing specific goals. Sometimes referred to as drug therapy, this form of care generally requires the cooperation of doctors, pharmacists, and patients, so that a person can be referred to a combination of medications that will assist them. General goals for pharmaceutical care can include slowing or stopping the progression of a medical condition, preventing symptoms or diseases from occurring, or controlling the symptoms of a condition.

Medications at a pharmacy.
Medications at a pharmacy.

Accomplishing the goals of pharmaceutical care usually involves three functions including the identification of problems that could occur, or that are occurring, with the use of medication, as well as resolving those problems that are in progress. Additionally, individuals may attempt to prevent potential issues with medication from transpiring. Such problems could interfere with the optimum accomplishment of treatment-related goals and the well-being of the individual, which is why these functions are taken into account.

Pharmacists provide pharmaceutical care to patients.
Pharmacists provide pharmaceutical care to patients.

A variety of drug therapy problems could, or do, occur. Individuals involved in the pharmaceutical care process often look out for conditions or symptoms that could be treated, but have not yet been treated, with medication. Other problems include using an improper medication for the situation, not obtaining a medication, or receiving too much or too little of a given medication. Side effects and interactions are also a concern with this type of care. Taking multiple medications can increase the chance of interactions between them, for some individuals, making this problem a particular concern.

Pharmacy employees often play an active role in providing proper pharmaceutical care. Many people see multiple health care providers, who may not be aware of all other medications and supplements that an individual takes. Their pharmacists must consider all of the substances that are being used, and alert the individual to any potential interactions or adverse effects. They may also advise individuals on behaviors that will help them achieve desirable outcomes, such as following a regular regimen of taking medications.

Drug therapy plans can sometimes help individuals achieve maximal benefits from pharmaceutical care. Such plans consider not only the medications being taken, but also personal information like medical conditions, insurance status, exercise history, and health-related behaviors. Advice regarding the types and dosages of medications can be provided based on this information, and sometimes, pharmacists will review them with people in order to ensure that they fully understand them.

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