There is a current air of haziness as to the role of a pharmacist. Can they prescribe or should they just dispense? From a doctor’s viewpoint, pharmacists are not trained to prescribe, as their training do not encompass making a proper diagnosis of a patient through their history, physical examination and investigation.
Let me illustrate. A hypertensive patient once told me that he could walk up to a pharmacist and request for loose tablets of hypertensive medication with no questions asked. No blood pressure readings were even taken. This is an unacceptable and unethical practice.
Pharmacist have an important role to play in healthcare. However, they are not ready to prescribe yet. Their history taking and physical examination skills need some brushing up if they are to take over the role of general practitioners. Even the prescription of simple medications may be tricky if proper procedures are not adhered to.
It is my opinion that the pharmacists should stick with dispensing for now. The regulation of the practices of pharmacists needs improvement as well. Perhaps if a pharmacist would like to prescribe, he/she should undergo 6 years of gruelling training that a medical student has to undergo. Even their examination formats will have to be revamped to accomodate such a change in responsibilities.
The bottomline is that a patient’s healthcare should not be compromised.