Why Having a Great Relationship With Your Pharmacist Is Important
Your pharmacist may be an overlooked healthcare team member, but they shouldn’t be. Especially if you are living with hepatitis C.
One of the liver's jobs is to break down medications, including herbs and supplements. Living with chronic hepatitis C, or liver damage from hepatitis C can limit the types of medications and supplements you can take.
How a pharmacist can help
A pharmacist can help you review your medications and supplements to make sure they’re a safe option for you. They may recommend a smaller dose or a different medication option to your primary care provider (PCP).
They can also look for drug interactions, where one medication makes another medication stronger, weaker, or causes a dangerous side effect.1,2
Medication management is another way pharmacists can be part of your healthcare team. Medication management (MTM) is a service in which pharmacists help you get the most benefit from your medications.
They can help you organize your medications and supplements, teach you how they work, adjust doses, monitor you for side effects, ensure you’re not taking more medication than you need, and so on. This service is very important because the number of medication options has grown.
Sometimes, if you have many health conditions, treatment plans can be complicated and last a long time. Also, a shortage of PCPs means it may be harder to see your PCP often enough to get your medication plan right for you in a timely way.3,4
Finally, some pharmacists offer other services, including medical screenings for other health issues like diabetes, health education, and vaccinations. There are many vaccines recommended if you have hepatitis C, and your pharmacist may be able to provide some of those for you.1
The impact a pharmacist can have
I’ve personally referred many people to our clinic pharmacist. In my experience as a nurse, I’ve seen first-hand the value our pharmacist has had on their quality of life.
Many did not realize we had a pharmacist that offered support and services. Their experiences with her were similar to what the research shows: strong relationships between patients and pharmacists improve one’s ability to manage their medications and health. After seeing our pharmacist, I had many people tell me how much better they felt about managing their medication plans and advocating for themselves at PCP appointments.4
With many smaller pharmacies dying out, and chain and mailout pharmacies taking their place, you may be worried that finding a pharmacist to help you will be hard. However, pharmacists now work in several places, from grocery stores to clinics.
Some even have their businesses (private practice). Ask your PCP and people in your social circle about pharmacists you can work with within your area.
It may make a difference in managing your health and safety during or after hepatitis C treatment.
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