Pharmacists can conduct effective consultations with patients

December 06, 2001

Randomised controlled trial of clinical medication review by a pharmacist of elderly patients on repeat prescriptions in general practice BMJ Volume 323, pp 1340-3

Consultations with a trained pharmacist are an effective way of reviewing the drug treatment of older patients, without affecting the workload of general practitioners, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Over 1,000 patients aged 65 or over, who were receiving at least one repeat medication, were divided into two groups. The first group was invited to a consultation at which the pharmacist reviewed their medical conditions and current treatment. The second group continued to receive normal care from their general practitioner and primary healthcare staff.

The pharmacist review resulted in more changes to treatment and lower prescribing costs than normal care, without affecting the workload of general practitioners.

Patients seen by the pharmacist were more likely to have changes made to their repeat prescriptions because the pharmacist did a more detailed review than the general practitioner, suggest the authors. This effect could be important because patient compliance has been shown to fall with an increasing number of drugs. Stopping unnecessary drugs may also reduce the risk of adverse effects and interactions, they add.

The small scale of this trial, involving only four practices, in one city and just one pharmacist, limits the generalisability of the results, say the authors. Nevertheless, it shows that significant and clinically important results can be achieved by pharmacists reviewing patients and their treatment.


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