Dec 8, 2015
By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
It's always exciting when your kids discover their super powers. No, not actual a radioactive spider bit me now I seamlessly get into costume in in an alley and climb walls super powers. But super powers like when your kid finds something they are surprisingly good at. Eric's super power is hockey related, kinda. He isn't the fastest skater or best shooter on his team. But he can get out of his hockey equipment very, very fast. I hadn't really thought about it much, but other parents kept commenting on how fast he changes. Having others notice how fast your kid skates, or how well they read, or what a math whiz they are might be considered more traditionally useful skills. But in an effort to play the cards we are dealt, I wonder how Eric can use his speed stripping abilities in his future career?
Sometimes I wonder why there can be so many barriers to getting a patient's information to follow them when they leave a hospital. The Personal Health Information Act (or PHIA) came into force in 1997. That means it has been around as long as Ive been a pharmacist. It is a good and well meaning act, but its implementation hasnt always been ideal. I remember shortly after starting at the DCP, Dr. Rob Stecher told me a story about a patient of his. The Dr. Stecher sent his patient to St. Boniface Hospital for a cardiac procedure. Then the patient was transferred back to the Dauphin Hospital. Dr. Stecher called St. Boniface to find out what procedures had been done to the patient at St. B, what medications he was put on and what the plan was for the patient now he was in Dauphin. The person Dr. Stecher talked to at St. B refused to tell him anything. They said due to PHIA, they couldnt release any information. Dr. Stecher was flabbergasted. Obviously, PHIA wasnt written to prevent information from getting a patients family doctor, but this is an example of how vital information doesnt always follow the patient when they leave a hospital.
That old Dr. Stecher story is the most extreme example Ive heard of where important information does not follow a patient out of a hospital, but there are lots of smaller lapses that happen every day. For example, let's say a patient is discharged from a Winnipeg hospital. The ward clerk cant or wont fax the prescription to the patients pharmacy in Dauphin. By the time the patient drives back to Dauphin with the prescription, their pharmacy might be closed. Or there could be an allergy or interaction on the prescription, but the pharmacist cant get a hold of the writing physician since they have gone off shift. Or the hospital doctor could have prescribed an exotic medication. Since the prescription doesn't get to the pharmacy until the end of the day, it can't be ordered from the wholesaler immediately and it takes an extra day for the patient to get their medication.
It might seem like a minor inconvenience for a patient to have to physically take a discharge prescription from the hospital to their pharmacy, but it can be more than that. Even if a pharmacy is right across the street from a hospital, getting it there can be very difficult for a patient. The patient might be elderly, mentally challenged, or not mobile. The patient might not have any family to help them out. They might not have a car. Or in the confusion of being discharged, they might lose the paper the prescription is written on.
Pharmacists can help you and your hospitalized loved ones jump the information gap between the hospital and your own home. We call it Seamless Care. Seamless Care means we will help you get as much information as possible out of the hospital and to your health care team in the community. Often this information starts with the discharge prescription and care plan.
If you or a loved one are discharged from a Winnipeg hospital and they aren't able to fax the prescription to your pharmacy, call your pharmacist. Sometimes we are able to talk to someone who has enough authority to use the fax machine. If you have a smart phone some pharmacies, like the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy, have apps that let you take a picture of the discharge plan and send it to the pharmacy. If you are discharged from a Parkland Hospital, pharmacists have even more options. For example, if your grandmother was discharged from the Dauphin Hospital, one of the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy staff can walk up to your grandmother's room and get the discharge order. If you request, we can bring the filled prescription back to her hospital room. We have also brought devices like blood sugar machines to patient's rooms and shown them how to use them in hospital so they are comfortable with the new devices before they leave.
If grandma gets all the way home with her discharge prescription and has no way to get it to her pharmacy, still call your pharmacist. Most pharmacies have a delivery service. For example if someone had a discharge order at their house in Dauphin, many times we have sent a delivery person to pick up the order, fill it and bring it back to them. If necessary, we have sent a pharmacist to a newly discharged patient's house to review more complicated things like asthma inhalers and insulin pens.
Pharmacists want your transition out of the hospital and into your home to be seamless. I want Eric's transition to a quick clothing change career to be seamless as well. I thought briefly of male exotic dancer, but besides not being the most comfortable profession to discuss at Christmas Dinner, I guess taking off clothing really fast isn't the point. Maybe clothing model, or actor would be up Eric's alley, since they both involve fast costume changes. Or maybe he should stay in school and bone up on his reading and math skills. Because velcro tear away pants aren't the kind of seamless discussion Eric's Omi wants to have with the rouladen she feeds him this December.
The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
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As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.