Pharmacists have been granted prescribing privileges for minor ailments in several Canadian provinces. In an ongoing process of evaluation in one of those provinces, a random sample of pharmacists was surveyed for feedback on select aspects of the program. Data analysis was based on information provided by 268 responders (response rate 48.5%). Of those, 68.7% were female and 31.3% were male. Just over 40 percent were located in the two largest cities. The vast majority had prescribed 20 times or less.
The scope of the program encompassed 17 ailments. From this list, pharmacists identified the conditions that gave them the MOST and LEAST concern relative to prescribing. Headache/ migraine, GERD, and dysmenorrhea garnered the most concern, while cold sores and canker sores (mouth ulcers) were two areas of low concern.
Most pharmacists estimated that at least half the time patients articulate a self-diagnosis during such encounters, a key directive of the guidelines. As a gauge of the public’s ability to make this assessment, 41.0% of pharmacists reported that approximately 10% of encounters turn out to be something more serious than what the patient originally articulated. Similarly, estimates were provided on the percentage of cases initially seen in pharmacies that probably should not be handled by pharmacists. Migraine had one of the highest levels of referral to medical care. The majority of respondents felt between 10 and 30% of all minor ailment cases with pharmacist involvement would need medical care soon after for that same problem.
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