Avoid Amcal stroke service: surgeons

The AMA and Stroke Foundation are urging Australians to avoid a stroke screening service available through Amcal

Screening and risk assessment activities in community pharmacy must be evidence-based, meet unmet needs in the community, be appropriate for a pharmacy setting and provided by an appropriately-trained pharmacist, the peak national body for pharmacists, PSA says.

PSA responded to media reports criticising the new “Strokecheck” screening service offered through the Amcal pharmacy banner group.

According to Fairfax Media, there have been reports that the service produces many “false positives” and is unnecessarily frightening participants.

Screening and risk assessment – which is within the scope of all pharmacists’ practice in Australia – is a key component of Australia’s strategy to reduce the burden of preventable disease, PSA says. There is strong evidence screening and risk assessment targeted at preventable conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular, chronic kidney disease and osteoporosis, is cost-effective and improves population health.

“The opportunity is obvious in that it represents another avenue for highly accessible community pharmacies to embed themselves as important contributors to our healthcare system,” PSA National President Joe Demarte says.

“However the responsibility, on the other hand, is to remember that this is a preventive health service and deserves to be treated as such. With this in mind, PSA has a new position statement on screening and risk assessment to help pharmacists with this important issue.”

PSA’s statement outlines five principles that should underpin pharmacy-based screening and risk assessment services. These principles are informed by the World Health Organization’s Principles of early disease detection.

The principles include:

  • Principle 1: Screening and risk assessment services should target conditions associated with a significant burden of disease, and populations where interventions provide greatest value.
  • Principle 2: Interventions must be evidence-based and appropriate for the pharmacy setting.
  • Principle 3: Pharmacists need to obtain and document informed consent.
  • Principle 4: Pharmacists must facilitate appropriate follow up, including referral for patients with a positive screening test.
  • Principle 5: Pharmacists must be appropriately trained and equipped to provide screening and risk assessment services.

Mr Demarte says: “Screening and risk assessment activities in community pharmacy must not only be evidence-based and appropriate for the pharmacy setting, they must only be provided by an appropriately trained and equipped pharmacist using validated screening and risk assessment tools.”

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