The Responsibilities Of Physicians And Pharmacists

A new statement setting out the respective responsibilities of physicians and pharmacists was published today by the World Medical Association.

The statement declares that patients will best be served when pharmacists and physicians collaborate together, recognising each other's roles to ensure that medicines are used safely and appropriately to achieve the best health outcome. Physicians and pharmacists have complementary and supportive responsibilities in achieving the goal of providing optimal medicinal therapy and this requires communication, respect, trust and mutual recognition of each other's professional competence.

The statement says that when counselling patients, physicians may focus on the goal of therapy, the risks, benefits and side effects. The pharmacist on the other hand may focus on correct usage, treatment adherence, dosage, precautions and storage information.

The physician's responsibilities include:

  • diagnosing diseases and accepting the sole responsibility for the diagnosis;
  • assessing the need for medicinal therapy and prescribing the relevant medicines;
  • providing information to patients about diagnosis, indications and treatment goals;
  • monitoring response to medicinal therapy and when necessary revising the therapeutic plan;
  • maintaining adequate records;

The pharmacist's responsibilities include:

  • ensuring safe procurement, adequate storage and dispensing of medicines;
  • providing information to patients on a medicine's interactions and side effects;
  • reviewing prescription orders to identify interactions, allergic reactions, contraindications and discussing concerns with the physician;
  • discussing medicine-related problems with the patient;
  • advising patients on non prescription medicines;
  • reporting adverse reactions.