Pharmacists are experts on medication

A report warning that the commonly used antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole can trigger a wide range of rare but potentially serious side effects highlights the critical role of the pharmacist.

Many people are unaware of the potentially serious interactions certain drugs can have with each other. Within the patient’s health care team, the pharmacist is the expert in medication. He or she has the specialized knowledge needed to identify these potential drug interactions — as well as side effects and adverse reactions — to highlight solutions or, where necessary, to suggest an alternative medication. In order to do this, the pharmacist needs to be aware of all of the medications that a patient is taking.

Patients often assume that all pharmacies have access to a patient’s electronic record, but that isn’t the case — even among pharmacies within the same chain. A prescription filled at one pharmacy won’t be on record at another.

To prevent potentially deadly drug interactions, patients need to let their pharmacist know what prescription and non-prescription medications they’re taking, and should use the same pharmacy each time. Full electronic health records for all Ontarians will be an important step in ensuring that pharmacists and other health care providers have access to the information they need.  ~ ~