As a health care professional, one of my core enemies, on a daily basis, is ignorance and I find it hard to understand why some of you don’t trust your pharmacist. Let me explain myself.
Your Neighbor, Dr. Google & Your Health
In a pharmacy somewhere in Germany, the following dialogue unfolds:
-Hello. How may I help you?
-I need “insert product”.
-Why do you need it? What symptoms do you have?
-I am suffering from “insert symptom” and I read on the internet / I heard from a friend/relative/neighbor that this product will help me.
If only I’ve had a dollar for every time I heard this, I’d be able to retire already…
Just give it to me
The easy way out, of course, is to just give my clients exactly what they desire, no questions asked. They will exit the pharmacy pretty satisfied and my work will be over in no time. But that’s nothing less than a money grab, isn’t it? I’m sure you would expect much more.
To me, what’s most important is that my clients get the medicine they need, provided that they truly need one. As a pharmacist, besides the conventional, legal obligation for a proper consultation, I also have a moral obligation. I’m not a salesman, I am a health advisor. Therefore, your health is my number one priority.
Why do you ask me all that?
Who is the patient? Is the patient an adult or a child, a man or a woman? If the patient is a child, how old is he/she and what’s his/her weight? If it’s about a woman, is she maybe pregnant or breastfeeding? Does the patient suffer from any other diseases or allergies? Does the patient take any other medication of supplements? What sort of symptoms have developed, of what severity and when? Has he/she visited a doctor?
Your pharmacists don’t ask all these questions because they are just curious or because they want to offend you. All they want is to advise you the best way possible. They do it in order to choose the right medication based on the patient’s profile, to determine the dosage and inform you about any potential side-effects. So, trust your pharmacist.
No neighbor, friend or relative of yours, or even the world famous Dr. Google can give you the answers you seek. Ignorance and carelessness can lead to numerous mistakes. Simple mistakes like taking a medicine at the wrong time of the day or even serious ones like taking medicines that are contraindicated.
But it’s safe…
No, it’s not! There are many products in the market that we generally regard as safe, but that’s not always the case. Especially when it comes to herbal products, there are so many variables to be taken into account. Self-medication requires, first and foremost, proper information. OTC (or Over The Counter, also known as “nonprescription drugs”), vitamins and supplements are easily obtainable but sometimes there is some risk involved. This is all the more true for prescription drugs. You need to understand this: there is no such thing as 100% safe medicinal product. Anyone who claims the opposite is lying.
In fact, according to the FDA, in the USA alone, it is estimated that every year about 100,000 people lose their lives and the health care system is burdened with 136 billion dollars because of drug interactions. Think about that for a second…
By now you must have already understood how silly it is to get angry with me when I refuse to give you what you ask or when I ask you some questions. There is always a good reason for that.
So, what should I do?
Nowadays, the pharmacist is an integral part of your health care team. Moreover, visiting the same pharmacy is important because your medication records are kept in one place. Thus, mistakes can be avoided.
Therefore, what you should do, is actually pretty simple. Do not trust anyone who is not a health care professional. Instead, find a pharmacist that really cares about the well-being of his clients and whom you can trust. Do not underestimate his contribution. Ask him about anything that troubles you and you won’t regret it.
To put it briefly: Trust your pharmacist!