November 11, 2010

Pharmacies Becoming Sources for Medical Care?

Normally I will not post the same blog to both of my blogs.  I feel this topic needs the exposure so that people can determine for themselves where they want to be on this issue. 

Is this what we want or what we need? I have to wonder if this will be a good thing for people with chronic diseases. I am not sure I want my medical care retailized or taken care out of a storefront. But this is the latest desire from Walgreens – to become your one-stop health care facility.

Walgreens and other large retail pharmacies are lobbying to make this a fact of life. I do not want to have nurse practitioners in charge of my medical health care. I am thankful that in some of the more remote areas or largely rural areas in the United States, nurse practitioners have been needed to get medical care to people and have done excellent work. This has been a necessity because of the lack of doctors in these areas. But for a retail store like Walgreens in non-rural area, this runs against my better nature.

Walgreens is wanting to do this because of the “national shortage of primary care doctors”. They are proposing to “assist patients in managing chronic conditions of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol”.

We have to wonder if we are going to be prescribed extra drugs or medications as a result. Is the American Medical Association going to allow this to happen? Are the states going to allow this to happen? It is happening in some states that have nurse practitioners, but I hope that this does not come to pass in our more populated states.

Many pharmacies are now giving blood screening, flu shots, and other medical advice mainly under the supervision of pharmacists. This is not always the best for many patients as they do not check any medical records to verify allergies and other medical conditions which might preclude some treatments.

What many are banking on is the new health care act providing insurance to people and they want to cash in on the potential increase of cash. And Walgreens is not bashful about saying this.

Before I would want to utilize pharmacies (or what name they will change to), I would want to know who is responsible for writing the prescriptions and whether they have met the education requirements necessary to be able to write prescriptions. Are the pharmacies going to require filling the prescriptions in their store or can these prescriptions be filled at any pharmacy?

These are just some of the questions that need to be answered before I would accept pharmacies taking over primary medical care. Will pharmacies be required to have doctors available to consult or oversee and supervise prescriptions with appropriate approvals available for states to audit? Will this action create or necessitate more state agencies to oversee questionable medical decisions and audit procedures? Will this just increase medical fraud, Medicare, Medicaid, and other fraudulent practices.

And with the shortage of nurses that exists today, where will all of the nurse practitioners come from? Or will they come from our hospitals and doctors offices thus creating a more critical shortage there?

Before this becomes practice, I would hope that our federal and state legislators will examine this very carefully. The last question I would want answered or information made available to the public is the political contributions made in the last election and to whom were they made.

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