Role of Pharmacists to Patients – Health System Example

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"Role of Pharmacists to Patients" is a perfect example of a paper on the health system. Professionals need to be aware of their impact on the people they serve, as well as, their responsibilities in their area of expertise so as to be effective. This paper focuses on a case involving Patrick McLaughlin, the patient, Kathy O'Dell, and Craig Merrick, the pharmacists, that portrays the impact of pharmacists on patients. McLaughlin sues Hook pharmacy on allegations of failure by the pharmacists to warn him of the side effect of the drugs prescribed for him.

The court, however, finds the pharmacists innocent of all the charges on the grounds that McLaughlin was perfectly aware of his actions (Hook v. McLaughlin, 1994).   As pharmacists, Kathy O'Dell and Craig Merrick are responsible for several responsibilities. First, pharmacists are required to precisely follow the instruction as prescribed by a doctor or a physician before issuing the drugs. The pharmacist should demand a written prescription or call the responsible doctor for clarification. Additionally, the pharmacist must verify the legitimacy of the prescription issuing in accordance with the law (Lamb, 2014).

Second, a pharmacist has the responsibility of executing the public policies governing the healthcare sector. These include honoring the patient-doctor relationship, avoiding uncalled-for costs on healthcare, and drug abuse prevention may it be intentional or unintentional.   Lastly, a pharmacist should make it his or her responsibility to evaluate the patient for any reasonable harm that may occur in the future.       In this case, Kathy O'Dell and Craig Merrick have adhered to a number of this responsibility such as honoring the prescription from Dr. Edwards, demanding a written prescription, and making calls to Dr.

Edwards (Hook v. McLaughlin, 1994). This portrays the respect of pharmacists towards the relationship between McLaughlin and Dr. Edwards, as well as, compliance with the law. On the other hand, Kathy O'Dell and Craig Merrick are not keen on the rate of consumption of the drug, side effects expected, and public policies involved. In my opinion, the court ruling in favor of Hook’ s pharmacists is relatively the right call in this case. This is because the drugs were either issued upon provision of a written prescription or after calling the patient’ s doctor.

Therefore, the decision by the pharmacists to refill the drugs was not entirely up to them (Chisholm and Humphreys 2011). Additionally, having pharmacists issue drugs to the patient does not in any way transfer the responsibilities of the doctor to the pharmacist. The doctor remains the ultimate specialist responsible for all the decisions concerning the medication of the patient. McLaughlin was in perfect mental condition and of full knowledge of his actions a fact that cuts off all liability that may be associated with the pharmacy his addiction or attempts to commit suicide. McLaughlin case is an important reference case for most employees especially in the health care sector regardless of their level of professionalism, to be mindful of actions.

According to Lamb (2014), the main lesson, in this case, is the importance of working together towards the interests of the customer. McLaughlin would neither be addicted to propoxyphene nor would he have taken more drugs than required of him, if his doctor worked hand in hand with the pharmacists. The failure of healthcare professionals to perform accordingly may negatively impact the community at large.

These include increased cost of health care services due to improper disposal of drugs, cases of drug induce injuries, addiction, and loss of life.   In conclusion, a patient that in his or her sound mind takes substances with the knowledge of its effect cut off any liabilities of the involved parties if the means used to acquire the substance were legal. Based on McLaughlin's case, the healthcare sector has made changes on how to handle prescriptions. Pharmacies are using computerized information systems to store patient’ s prescriptions information and are accessible when needed.

Finally, today there are set standards procedures for handling prescriptions were all pharmacists are to offer the same services under similar circumstances.                


Chisholm, M., Russell, D., & Humphreys, J. (2011). Measuring rural allied health workforce turnover and retention: What are the patterns, determinants and costs? Australian Journal of Rural Health, 19 (2), 81-88.

Hook v. McLaughlin. (1994). Retrieved from 23 June 2014

Lamb Edward. (2014). Top 9 Pharmacist Responsibilities. Retrieved from 23 June 2014

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