Importance of Clinical Pharmacist in The Management of Chronic Medical Conditions
What are chronic medical conditions?
The term chronic is used when the disease lasts for more than 3 months and requires long term treatment.
Common chronic medical conditions include Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, Arthritis, Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, etc..,
Who is the clinical pharmacist?
A clinical pharmacist is a healthcare professional who is specialized in the clinical pharmacy where he/she provides direct patient care by individualizing medication therapy, promoting health, and helps in disease management.
What happens when people are on long term treatment?
Many people have to take medications for a very long period of time (tuberculosis, chronic kidney diseases, chronic liver diseases, etc..,) or on a permanent basis (hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, etc..,), but some characteristics of drugs make it difficult for the patient to take them over long period of time and its becomes very difficult when taking several different drugs.
Some people don’t want to take medications ( Antiepileptics, Antineoplastics etc.,) for long periods because of fear of side effects.
Some adults as they become older they find it difficult to take solid dosage forms (Tablets, Capsules etc.,) so they might discontinue to take those medications.
Some medications (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics) will not show their effect immediately or patient could not feel the effect of the medication, then they think that the medication is not working and stops taking them.
Some of the medications ( Rifampicin, Chloroquine, Metronidazole, Nitrofurantoin etc.,) changes the color of body secretions, then people may feel unsafe and worried and avoid taking them.
Some of the medications (Pantoprazole, Paracetamol etc.,) may interact with foods and leads to impaired efficacy of the drugs.
When people using medications (Theophylline, Phenytoin, Digoxin etc.,) for long term use, the serum levels of those medications should be monitored regularly, otherwise continuous use of medications with no proper dose adjustment may lead to drug toxicity.
People who are taking medications on a long term basis may also take medications for temporary medical problems like headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fever, skin diseases, infectious diseases, injuries, etc.., in such cases the number of drugs increases which leads to increased chances of drug interactions.
Warfarin + paracetamol = increased risk of bleeding.
Phenytoin + paracetamol = increased risk of hepatotoxicity
Carbamazepine + antipsychotics = decreased plasma concentrations of antipsychotics.
If these drug interactions are not identified, they may lead to several serious consequences and sometimes leads to death also.
What is the need for clinical pharmacists in the management of chronic health conditions?
Anyone managing patients with chronic medical conditions understands the importance of medication management and adherence.
Physicians, however, have little time & knowledge on these issues and a possible solution is working with a clinical pharmacist.
The clinical pharmacists perform such tasks like medication management and adherence very effectively and are trained on best pharmaceutical practices.
Clinical pharmacists help manage chronic patients because they look at medications in a different way than any other health professionals.
Some of the important functions of clinical pharmacists are
i. Medication therapy management.
ii. Therapeutic drug monitoring.
iii. ADR monitoring and management.
iv. Drug interaction monitoring.
v. Selection of appropriate dosage forms & formulations.
vi. Medication adherence.
vii. Dose adjustments & calculations ( mainly in multiple disease conditions)
viii. Patient counseling.
Whenever all these activities are going on there are very fewer chances or no chances of getting drug interactions, ADR’s, drug toxicity, patient noncompliance.
Through patient counseling and recommending appropriate dosage forms and formulations, clinical pharmacists can promote medication adherence, increases patient compliance, reduces the fear of side effects, and avoids drug-food interactions.
So the health system must include clinical pharmacists for the management of chronic medical conditions.
Clinical the pharmacist is the major health professional to be considered as far as drug therapy is concerned.
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