CMI protects you too

Case highlights the importance of providing CMI when a drug is dispensed for the first time, writes John Guy from PDL

Providing consumer medication information (CMI) whenever a drug is dispensed for the first time is not only good professional practice, it can also work to protect and benefit the dispensing pharmacist, writes John Guy.

If a consumer is inadvertently dispensed the wrong medicine (and PDL sees many instances of this), the routine practice of providing the CMI offers an opportunity for the consumer to be alerted that the medicine might not be what was prescribed by the doctor to treat his or her condition.

In offering the CMI, the consumer and the pharmacist could be spared the repercussions of medication misadventure.

Similarly, contraindications or potential side-effects which could harm the consumer may become apparent when the consumer reads the information provided. These possible problems may have been missed or not considered by the pharmacist.

The value of the CMI was recently demonstrated to PDL when a pharmacist submitted a Notification of a Dispensing Incident report. A young male adult had been dispensed Grisovin (Griseofulvin) and a CMI had been provided to him. Grisovin is dispensed rarely these days but most pharmacists would know to counsel that the drug should be taken with food, which preferably contains some fat to aid absorption.

The pharmacist who made the incident report was shocked to learn that Grisovin is contraindicated in men planning to father a child as it may cause abnormalities in sperm cells. The young man, who was trying to start a family, read the CMI, discovered the contraindication and was able to seek an alternative and safer treatment for his condition.

If the Grisovin had been consumed in this case, the implications for the consumer and, therefore the pharmacist, could have been painful.

PDL strongly advocates the provision of CMI because it encourages the pharmacist to discuss the dispensed drug and counsel the consumer appropriately. The process of counselling the consumer is an important final check that the medicine has been dispensed correctly and this procedure has helped prevent many dispensing errors from leaving the pharmacy.

In the Guidelines for Dispensing of Medicine, the Pharmacy Board of Australia makes the following statement:

“Lack of counselling can be a significant contributor in dispensing errors and their detection. In this regard, the Board endorses the current patient counselling guidelines produced by PSA and The SHPA, including the use of ‘Consumer Medicines Information leaflets’.”

The provision of CMI is therefore clearly in everyone’s interests.

Importantly, it offers additional protection to consumers against medication misadventure. But it also offers pharmacists with a final check to ensure they meet both their duty of care to the consumer and their professional dispensing obligations.

John Guy is chair of the PDL Victorian Local Advisory Committee 

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