Calgary - A new ruling in Alberta empowers pharmacists to prescribe medicines to patients suffering minor medical conditions. Now, pharmacists in Alberta will be allowed to take a decision on the treatment for minor conditions and make modifications to dosages or prescriptions given by doctors.
Though this ruling has received widespread acclaim, there are certain concerns about the ability of the pharmacists to diagnose medical conditions correctly. Further, it is not clear as to who will take the ultimate responsibility when difference of opinion between doctors and pharmacists arise.
Pharmacists have praised this move, as it will ease the pressure on family physicians and reduce waiting times in emergency rooms. Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said, "There are numerous examples where I think patients can get treatment for a number of disorders from a community pharmacy. They don't need to see the physician, they don't need to go to the ER and the pharmacist is going to be perfectly competent in terms of managing them. Pharmacists are not going to be stupid about this. The patient who's got a headache and is also dizzy and has blurred vision, you're not going to sell them a new headache tablet. You're going to refer them to the emergency room straight away."
Some medical specialists have pointed out that such a ruling may be risky, as critical conditions could go unnoticed till it is too late. After all, pharmacists cannot step into Doctors' shoes so effortlessly, by virtue of the knowledge and experience doctors possess in their respective fields of medicine. Only time will tell if the decision to empower pharmacists is a shot in the arm or the biggest blunder.