Here are the things pharmacists can and can't do for Islanders
Pharmacists want to be able to diagnose and treat more minor ailments, like urinary tract infections
Pharmacists on P.E.I. can currently give out flu shots and provide prescriptions for a list of 30 minor ailments. However, the P.E.I. Pharmacists Association says Island pharmacists still cannot address other common issues, like their colleagues in other jurisdictions.
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"If someone comes to the pharmacist first, which often happens due to their availability and their accessibility, what the pharmacist would do then is take the patient aside and have a consultation. So that could result in a prescription medication or a non-prescription medication," said Erin MacKenzie, a pharmacist and executive director of the association.
"They can save the patient lots of time, improve their health and also save the health-care system money."
The association did a survey in 2015 asking what services the pharmacists were being asked to provide most often.
1. Cold sores.
2. Gastrointestinal upset or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which includes reflux and acid in the stomach.
3. Seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis).
4. Contact dermatitis or minor rashes.
5. Muscle or joint pain.
"Those were the top reported at that time and I think they've stayed pretty consistent," MacKenzie said.
Pharmacists currently can assess and prescribe for 30 minor ailments.
Here are a few of the things pharmacists can do for you.
MacKenzie says skin conditions such as rashes and acne are among the common questions that pharmacists deal with, as well as calluses or corns, dandruff, fungal infections of the skin, mild to moderate eczema, mild urticaria (hives, bug bites and stings), hemorrhoids, oral fungal infection (thrush), oral ulcers (canker sores), vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) and warts (excluding facial and genital warts).
P.E.I. pharmacists can assess and prescribe emergency contraception and dysmenorrhea (pre-menstrual and menstrual pain). They would like to be able to prescribe contraception as their colleagues can in other provinces.
Gastrointestinal issues are an area where P.E.I. pharmacists can offer prescription or non-prescription options for dyspepsia (indigestion), non-infectious diarrhea, threadworms or pinworms.
Island pharmacists can prescribe treatments for cough, nasal congestion, mild headache, nausea, sore throat and xerophthalmia (dry eyes).
P.E.I. pharmacists can also offer treatment options for minor sleep disorders and nicotine dependence.
MacKenzie says pharmacists can also continue prescriptions but that typically there would be an assessment of the file so there could be a fee attached to that as well.
Get rid of fee
The association suggests government increase the range of minor ailments they can diagnose to include things like urinary tract infections, pointing to a study just released in New Brunswick.
However, Prince Edward Islanders have to pay when they consult a pharmacist, something the association would also like to see changed.
"Because no one is reimbursing the pharmacist for that time, so if you do go into a physician's office or the emergency room, those folks are reimbursed through government billing," MacKenzie said. "In our case, we are presently not able to bill government for those interventions so they do have to be paid out of pocket by people."
MacKenzie says the fee can range from $20 to $25 to consult with a pharmacist. She says patients are given the choice to pay the fee or go elsewhere to seek advice.
"You can have a consult with the pharmacist while you are here right now, in real time, the charge is whatever it is, and basically the patient is also told that they can certainly go to a walk-in clinic or their physician's office as well," MacKenzie said.
She says it's up to patients to decide if they want to pay the fee.
"Sometimes people choose, 'I want to pay out of pocket, I want to get this looked after, I don't want to take the time off work which could end up being more costly,'" MacKenzie said. "And some folks say, 'You know what, I think I'm going to go elsewhere where I don't have to pay for the service.'"