Patient Education

Topics: Patient, Pharmacy, Health care Pages: 7 (2164 words) Published: December 6, 2010

DefiningthePharmacist’s role in Patient Education
By Shannon Reidt, PharmD and Todd D. Sorensen, PharmD

Upon conclusion of this program, the pharmacist should be able to:

1. Explain the need for pharmacist-based patient education. 2. List the steps recommended for the pharmacist-conducted patient education process. 3. Describe the recommended components of the pharmacist-conducted patient education. 4. Evaluate the evidence supporting patient medication education. 5. Explain the role of OBRA-90 on patient medication education. iNTrODuCTiON In the spring of 2007, the television news program 20/20 explored how often patients receive patient counseling when obtaining prescribed medications. The segment included clips of undercover shoppers filling prescriptions and interacting with pharmacy staff, revealing that pharmacists did not routinely provide medication counseling to patients. Similarly, another study utilizing under cover shoppers filling prescription at pharmacies in eight states showed that that pharmacists discussed one or more informational topics—such as drug name, type of medication, or directions—with only 63 percent of patients. Furthermore, pharmacists assessed patient understanding of their medications in only 48 percent of the encounters. Most pharmacists would agree that these results are unfortunate, particularly since patient counseling has been an expectation of pharmacists for nearly 20 years. Yet, many pharmacists are not providing this service to their patients. Undoubtedly many barriers and reasons can be identified that have led to this situation; however, it is important for pharmacists to consider these within the public health and legal consequences of their actions (or

lack of actions) and this article will explore some of these issues. Upon completion of this article, the reader will ideally understand the need for pharmacists to provide education to patients on medications; recognize evidence supporting positive outcomes created by patient medication education; know legal obligations for patient counseling; outline a standard approach to providing patient medication education; and define barriers to patient education. We will employ the term patient “education” as opposed to “counseling,” as this term more accurately reflects the nature of this activity. NEEDFOrPATiENTEDuCATiON Communication, and ultimately understanding, about medications and medication use is imperative for patients to achieve desired drug therapy outcomes. But who is taking responsibility for providing this education and allowing patients to effectively manage their medications? One might assume that pharmacists are doing this, but as stated previously, this may often not be the case. It might be possible that pharmacists are not required to provide this service if another health professional is already doing this consistently and effectively. If education is not provided when a patient is receiving a prescribed medication, another source could be at the time of prescribing. However, a study evaluating the education provided by physicians when new medications are prescribed showed that the level of education provided was often less than optimal. Investigators studied interactions between family physicians, internists, and cardiologists



PhARmACISt |January 2008

and their patients to measure the quality of physician communication about medications. Investigators also conducted physician and patient surveys. To quantify physician communication, investigators calculated a Medication Communication Index (MCI) and characterized variation according to physician specialty and medication class. The MCI was a five point index that gave points for physician communication about the following: medication name, purpose or justification for taking the medication, duration of use, adverse effects, number of tablets or sprays to be taken (0.5...
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