As efforts to grant pharmacists authority to prescribe certain medications pick up in some states, concern is growing among urgent care insiders that such a change in the clinical landscape could actually be detrimental to patients’ health, and certainly degrade the value that urgent care and other provider-based settings have to offer. The potential risk to patients was illustrated in a recent New York Times article that detailed how overwhelmed pharmacists already are, working long shifts without a break, counseling patients, administering vaccines (especially in advance of flu season), working the cash register, and having to meet overly demanding corporate performance targets. One pharmacist who works for a major national chain was quoted as saying she feels so overwhelmed that at times she doesn’t think it’s safe for her to even dispense medications, let alone prescribe them. An article published in JUCM distilled the net effect of pharmacist prescribing as granting pharmacists status as medical practitioners. The impact of that, clearly, is that if patients could go to any pharmacy—not just those that have an in-store clinic run by a nurse practitioner—they might be dissuaded from going to an urgent care center where they would get care either from a physician or under a physician’s supervision. (You can still read Pharmacists with Prescribing Privileges: A New Class of Medical Practitioner in our archive.)

Giving Pharmacists Prescribing Authority Could Be Risky—for Patients and for Urgent Care
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