Pharmacists and physicians are often thought to be one and the same, but there are in fact key differences between the two. Pharmacists are not medical doctors, and their doctoral degree is not the same as the one physicians obtain. The main differences between pharmacists and physicians are their responsibilities and the knowledge it takes to successfully and safely complete those responsibilities. As such, when one medical professional tries to take on the responsibilities of both occupations this could lead to mistakes and put patients at risk.
Key Differences Between Pharmacists And Physicians
A pharmacist has a pharmacist license and a doctoral degree in pharmacy. Their primary goal is to make sure patients receive the right medication and are aware of proper medication usage. Pharmacists are unable to prescribe the medication because they are not permitted to practice medicine. Still, physicians have a medical license and degree that allows them to specialize in a field of medicine. Physicians are able to develop a treatment plan for patients and prescribe the medications pharmacists give to patients.
The Role Of Pharmacists
While physicians prescribe medication, a pharmacist can address concerns a patient might have about taking the medication. Pharmacists spend years in school learning about different types of medications and how they are used, distributed in the body, and their ingredients. They are able to educate and inform people about when they should take their medications and how they can properly take the medication. Pharmacists also have knowledge of drug interactions. Therefore, if a person is on multiple medications, the pharmacist can make sure this patient is not taking any medications that will negatively interact.
What Physicians Cannot Dispense Prescription Medication
Physicians are unable to dispense medications for multiple reasons, one of them being the attention to detail pharmacists use when properly labeling drugs. Prescription labels need to have extensive information including the drug name, dosage frequency, expiration date, patient and prescriber, the reason for taking the medication, and how it should be taken. This list is not exhaustive and ensuring that all the information is present and accurate is time-consuming. This is time that a doctor might not have, but a pharmacist would. Additionally, pharmacists have training on how to properly label medication, while most physicians do not.
The Importance Of Keeping These Roles Separate
While it might be attractive to combine the roles to cut down on pharmacy wait times and make a patient’s life easier, keeping these jobs separate is vital. If physicians start dispensing medication, the pharmacist oversight will be gone and mistakes could happen. Pharmacists are able to act as a check to make sure that the medication is correct as prescribing errors could be fatal. They are able to review the medication and a patient’s medication history and create a safety net for the patient.
Contacting An Attorney Following A Medication Error
If you or a loved one were harmed due to pharmacist or physician negligence, contact one of our skilled attorneys. Our medical malpractice lawyers are experienced in these types of cases and could walk you through your legal options.