So it’s August and it’s notoriously known as being the worst month to be admitted to hospital. Why? It’s the first of August when the junior doctors start fresh from university and everyone else changes rotation. As if it wasn’t nerve wracking enough the tabloids are screaming out with dramatic headlines relating to the increase of patient deaths in August. I hardly think this helps settle your nerves. I was nervous enough starting last year without the hype of “the pharmacist is starting, get ready for a 6 % rise in prescription errors”
However, last week made me realise how much of a specialised role we have in our drug knowledge and how much I have learnt in the short year of being qualified. I have tried to make myself known to the new doctors, so that they can ask me about anything drug-related on the ward. I have received several questions from what are the antibiotic guidelines for hospital acquired pneumonia? To how do I prescribe vitamin B12 injection? I have also pointed out things such as decreasing certain drug doses in impaired renal function and our medicines reconciliation charts. From the dispensary I have talked several doctors through how to write a controlled drug prescription. On call, I had to guide doctors through the pre-operative bridging protocol for prescribing dalterparin and restarting a patient's warfarin post surgery.
All in all, I would prefer to be asked questions then something be prescribed incorrectly. I look back at how much I rang the senior pharmacists when I started and still do. Everyone needs to learn and we as pharmacists can come in handy this month to kick start some good prescribing habits. As for the press, I don’t think the sensationalist headlines do anyone any favours and create poor expectations of the new doctors from patients.
An interesting insight in to this matter can be found on the guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check/2012/aug/01/black-wednesday-new-nhs-hospital-doctors