Timeline to See a Physician for Symptoms. Part II – Perspective of Pharmacists and Physicians


Jeff Taylor


College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, E3108 Health Sciences, University of Saskatchewan.



In order to justify involvement in treating ailments presented in community pharmacies, pharmacists must continue to prove their competence. One key component for assessing such care will be the referral timelines to medical care.


The objective was to determine when pharmacists would refer various scenarios to medical care. In order to assess for appropriate referral patterns, physicians were surveyed on when they would want to see the same cases.


Cases were developed to reflect situations typical within community pharmacies. During an online survey, community pharmacists and family doctors indicated when patients in the cases should seek medical care. Options ranged from ‘right away’ to ‘no real need to see a doctor’.


Two hundred and sixty pharmacists responded, as did 59 physicians. For head cold symptoms, 60.4% of pharmacists would refer at the one- or two-week point, with 52.5% of physicians choosing the same timeline. For diarrhea in a child, 95.6% of pharmacists and 88.9% of physicians indicated care was needed right away or within a few more days. Most pharmacists felt that rectal bleeding should be seen in a week or less. Physicians were more apt to want medical oversight for red eye than pharmacists.


In response to negative physician feedback on pharmacist performance during symptom management, the results indicate pharmacists refer cases to medical care along appropriate timelines, as evident by when physicians would want to see such cases.

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