Is there potential for the future provision of triage services in community pharmacy?
Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, September 2016
Louise E. Curley, Janice Moody, Rukshar Gobarani, Trudi Aspden, Maree Jensen, Maureen McDonald, John Shaw, Janie Sheridan
Worldwide the demands on emergency and primary health care services are increasing. General practitioners and accident and emergency departments are often used unnecessarily for the treatment of minor ailments. Community pharmacy is often the first port of call for patients in the provision of advice on minor ailments, advising the patient on treatment or referring the patient to an appropriate health professional when necessary. The potential for community pharmacists to act as providers of triage services has started to be recognised, and community pharmacy triage services (CPTS) are emerging in a number of countries. This review aimed to explore whether key components of triage services can be identified in the literature surrounding community pharmacy, to explore the evidence for the feasibility of implementing CPTS and to evaluate the evidence for the appropriateness of such services. Systematic searches were conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA) databases from 1980 to March 2016. Key elements of community pharmacy triage were identified in 37 studies, which were included in the review. When a guideline or protocol was used, accuracy in identifying the presenting condition was high, with concordance rates ranging from 70 % to 97.6 % between the pharmacist and a medical expert. However, when guidelines and protocols were not used, often questioning was deemed insufficient. Where other health professionals had reviewed decisions made by pharmacists and their staff, e.g. around advice and referral, the decisions were considered to be appropriate in the majority of cases. Authors of the included studies provided recommendations for improving these services, including use of guidelines/protocols, education and staff training, documentation, improving communication between health professional groups and consideration of privacy and confidentiality. Whilst few studies had specifically trialled triage services, results from this review indicate that a CPTS is feasible and appropriate, and has the potential to reduce the burden on other healthcare services. Questions still remain on issues such as ensuring the consistency of the service, whether all pharmacies could provide this service and who will fund the service.
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