I have a soft spot for pharmacists. There, I said it. They are one of only a handful of health professions who actively recognize the value of the patient voice. They have not forgotten that patients are the people that they are working to serve. Pharmacists organize conferences and invite patients to share their experiences. That’s pretty profound, and I think they are true visionaries. (Talking amongst yourselves all the time doesn’t make for a revolution in the health system, folks).
I just had the great honour of co-presenting with Allison Wells, who is a fabulous mom and pharmacist at the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists in Banff. Allison did an exemplary job of sharing the story of her son’s adverse drug reaction in a hospital setting. She eloquently gave pointers to the pharmacist audience, and stressed that they had to use their own voices to speak up to ‘stop the line’ when errors are made. I was so impressed with her passion to share her son’s experience in order to make change in the health world.
Dr. Peter Zed before her gave some pretty terrifying statistics about patients presenting to hospital with adverse drug reactions, experiencing adverse drug reactions while in the hospital, and also after discharge. It made me want to stay as far away from the hospital as possible. But it was also heartening to know that pharmacists are looking at the issue of errors with great seriousness and transparency, and that they make a huge difference in making sure that the hospital makes people better, not sicker.
My take-away from Dr. Zed’s talk was this – he showed research from Hong Kong that said that patients adhere to treatment plans better if they receive follow up care from pharmacists. And I might be stretching this a bit, but what I heard is this: patients will care for themselves if they themselves feel cared for.
And as far as my presentation, which followed Allison’s? My talk was about this:
This was an awesome, engaged audience of health professionals, with big brains and even bigger hearts. Bravo to my noble pharmacist friends – carry on doing the good work that you do.