Administering non-prescription medicines
Have you ever been faced with a patient experiencing chest pain,
an asthma attack or symptoms of anaphylaxis in your pharmacy?
How did you respond? How long would it take for an ambulance to
reach your pharmacy? Although rare, medical emergencies are
situations where pharmacists may be called upon to provide assistance through the
administration of a medicine. Indeed, the public may expect pharmacists to
administer a medicine in a medical emergency. If you have never considered these
questions, then it is most likely that you have not thought about your competence,
and liability as a pharmacist, to administer medicines in a medical emergency.
So what is your scope of practice as a pharmacist in these situations?
Currently there are no legislative or professional guidelines that define
pharmacists’ scope of practice in relation to medical emergencies.1,2
As pharmacists are required to provide consumers with advice on
the correct use of non-prescription medicines and medical devices
that could be used to provide relief in a medical emergency, such as
adrenaline and salbutamol, it seems logical to expect that pharmacists
would be skilled in administering these medicines. Currently, it is not
clear to what extent a pharmacist would be liable for damages if he
or she administered a medicine in a medical emergency and there wasan adverse
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