If your child is sick, you'll probably have many questions to ask your doctor. But have you made a list of questions and concerns to share with your pharmacist?
If you're like most parents, the answer is probably "very few" or "none." But today's pharmacists are trained to provide valuable information about the prescriptions they fill and to answer questions that affect the patients they serve.
To encourage questions from their customers, many pharmacies provide counseling rooms where pharmacists can talk to patients and families privately.
Pharmacists cannot diagnose medical conditions but can answer many questions about medicines, recommend nonprescription drugs, and discuss side effects of specific medications. And some also can provide blood sugar and blood pressure monitoring and offer advice on home monitoring tests.
Most pharmacists who graduated in the 1980s received 5-year bachelor's degrees. Recently, it has become popular for pharmacists to receive a doctor of pharmacy degree. This 6- to 8-year-program requires pharmacists in training to go on hospital rounds with doctors and be there when decisions are made to begin drug use. These skills are particularly useful for pharmacists who operate within hospital settings.
Pharmacists are required to stay up-to-date on the changing world of medicine and to take continuing education classes on drug therapy. (Requirements can vary from state to state.)
Many pharmacies have private counseling areas where you talk without interruption. Some pharmacists also accept questions over the telephone. And if you ask, almost all pharmacies will provide you with detailed literature about a particular medication.
It's never too late to ask your pharmacist a question. Even if you don't think of one until after you get home, you can still call the pharmacist for advice. That's part of his or her job.
A typical question parents have is about allergic reactions. First and foremost, make sure that your pharmacist knows exactly what allergies your child has and what medications your child is already taking. This will help the pharmacist protect against possible drug interactions that could be harmful.
Once you have received the medication, always look at it carefully before you leave the pharmacy. Read the instructions to be sure you understand how to give it to your child. Even if the medication is a refill, check to make sure the drug is the same size, color, and shape that you are used to receiving. If anything doesn't look right, ask.
Consider the following additional questions for your pharmacist:
Some parents may forget to have their children finish a prescription. If the medication (for example, a pain medication) is to be taken "as needed for symptoms," you don't need to finish the entire prescription within a set number of days. But with prescriptions like antibiotics, the medication must be finished for it to be effective.
Throw away any old prescriptions. If your child doesn't finish a medication, don't save it for a future illness because most drugs lose their potency after a year. Do not use after the expiration date and talk with your doctor before giving old prescriptions to your child.
Another common problem is the sharing of medications between siblings. Pharmacists and doctors recommend that no one take a drug prescribed for anyone else or offer prescription drugs to another person, no matter how similar the symptoms or complaints.
Pharmacists offer the following advice:
It's important to establish a relationship with one pharmacy so that your pharmacist has a complete history of your family's prescribed medications. A pharmacist is an important resource when it comes to making sure your child is getting the right medicine.
If you move, you might want to consider staying within the same chain of pharmacy stores to ensure that your patient profiles and records are available in a common computer database. Or you could request that your most recent pharmacist give you a copy of your family's patient profiles and pharmaceutical history to take with you to share with your new pharmacist.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2013
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under.|
|Alternative Medicine and Your Child Alternative medicine includes herbal remedies, teas, supplements, and acupuncture. Learn what the risks are and whether alternative therapies can help your child.|
|Talking to Your Doctor Your best resource for health information and advice is your doctor - the person who knows you, your medical history, and accurate medical information to answer your questions.|
|Refilling a Prescription Tips and advice for teens on refilling a prescription.|
|Medications: Using Them Safely Giving kids medicine safely can be a complicated task. With a little knowledge and a lot of double-checking, you can help treat your child's illness while you prevent dangerous reactions.|
|Household Safety: Preventing Poisoning From fertilizer to antifreeze and medicines to makeup, poisonous items are throughout our homes. Here's how to protect your kids from ingesting a poisonous substance.|
|Understanding Medications and What They Do Medicines can cure, stop, or prevent disease; ease symptoms; or help in the diagnosis of certain illnesses. This article describes different types of medications and offers tips on taking them.|
|How to Fill a Prescription Taking responsibility for your own health care means understanding things like prescriptions. Read our tips for teens on filling a prescription.|
|What Medicines Are and What They Do You've taken medicine before. But what is it?|
|Knowing Your Child's Medical History In an emergency, health care professionals will have many questions about a patient's medical history. It's easy to compile this information now, and it could save critical minutes later.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.