Sunday, April 06, 2008

The pharmacist will see you now

From the Los Angeles Times:
Twice a week, Stephen Inns sees patients with high blood pressure at his office in a medical practice in southern England. Usually he conducts a few quick tests, asks them how they're doing and adjusts their medicines if necessary.

Inns isn't a doctor; he's a pharmacist.

He is one of fewer than 100 pharmacists across Britain recently given permission to prescribe drugs for patients and provide basic care, without relying on a doctor. The move is part of Britain's attempt to expand its healthcare system by allowing medical professionals such as nurses and pharmacists to treat patients.

Though many countries are slowly loosening the rules on non-doctors giving out medicines, none has given pharmacists as much power as Britain has in its effort to increase services and cut costs in a financially overburdened health system.

In 2006, Britain expanded the powers of pharmacists to treat patients once they took a training course. Though the number of prescribing healthcare professionals other than doctors remains small, their ranks are growing -- and the government hopes they will someday become the norm. ...more

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