Pharmacist Readiness Roles for Emergency Preparedness

Laura L. Pincock; Michael J. Montello; Matthew J. Tarosky; William F. Pierce; Calvin W. Edwards


Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2011;68(7):620-623. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Pharmacists provide care in a variety of settings, including ambulatory care clinics, community pharmacies, home health pharmacies, and hospital pharmacies. The pharmacist's role in disaster response is just as critical as it is in traditional settings. As the most accessible health care provider, the pharmacist plays an especially vital role when a disaster disrupts a community's health care system.

Several articles have described pharmacists' experiences and the lessons learned in both planning and responding to disasters.[1–4] In addition, pharmacy associations have recognized the responsibilities and duties of pharmacists to prepare and respond to disasters and to participate in the full range of issues related to pharmaceuticals in disaster response.[5–8]

While similarities exist between pharmacists' roles and responsibilities in traditional and disaster settings, it is important to emphasize that these roles and responsibilities are not the same. The unique circumstances of and challenges presented during a crisis require the pharmacist to have specialized skills that will help him or her provide rapid and effective pharmaceutical care during a disaster.

In the disaster setting, the pharmacist must consider the crisis factor. This means that greater emphasis must be placed on the current state of a patient's living environment, access to balanced nutrition, and potential access to longer-term care, as well as the limitations of the health care system. Issues such as limited formularies and the increased need for therapeutic substitutions, exacerbation or increased risk of adverse effects, a limited ability to maintain continuity of care, decreased access to appropriate nutrition and hydration, and patients' decreased ability to appropriately store their medications all provide a variety of challenges for pharmacists and their patients during a disaster. While pharmacists in all practice settings are likely to face many of these issues in their daily jobs, a disaster presents added complexity and increases the importance of considering the entire patient profile while providing pharmaceutical care.


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