Bioterrorism Preparedness: Answers for the Health-System Pharmacist

David S. Teeter

Disclosures

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2002;59(10):928-930. 

In This Article

What Pharmacists Can Do

Where we work determines what our role is in disaster preparedness. It does not matter if a pharmacist is employed by a health care facility, the pharmaceutical industry, or academia -- there will be some type of role for that pharmacist to fill. For patients, our roles in a disaster will be pretty much what we do every day -- counseling about compliance and adverse effects and providing general drug information. Pharmacists must ensure that they meet patients' needs and will have to be creative to meet these needs. A pharmacy director faced with hundreds of people coming in for medication after a bioterrorist act may want to use the hospital auditorium and have a physician, a public health official, and a pharmacist address the group. The pharmacist could emphasize the importance of taking the medicine as directed or the need to return in a week because a full month's supply cannot be dispensed immediately. Pharmacists will need to find ways to meet the tremendous demand for various medications and to advise prescribers about treatment options; they will get many telephone calls all at once asking what can be done and what the alternatives are.

Pharmacists, as health care professionals and as citizens, should become involved in planning a community's response to bioterrorism. They should also make advance provisions for their own families. Pharmacists on the frontline will be better able to focus on the task at hand knowing that the family is prepared, and family members will feel better knowing that Mom or Dad is also as safe as possible.

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