For the latest Medscape Roundtable Discussion we were asked “How Can Physicians Stay Current on Prescription Drugs?” Surprisingly the readers’ responses were overwhelmingly “Why didn’t anyone mention the role of pharmacists?” True enough we didn’t mention it. I can only speak for myself here. I regard pharmacists as an important part of the team, and a resource I utilize extensively. But we weren’t asked that. We were asked how we keep up with information in pharmacology, not how we delegate to other team members. Clinical pharmacists perform important tasks, safeguard against inappropriate orders and intercept errors. That doesn’t absolve physicians of the responsibility to expand and update their knowledge, utilizing the most authoritative primary sources available.
On the healthcare team the buck stops with me, the physician. If I’m doing my job I should know the “whole picture” of my patient’s problem better than anyone else including the pharmacist. If the pharmacist makes a recommendation on drug therapy I must understand the rationale. If the pharmacist happens to be wrong I must know how to proceed. The pharmacist has an essential role in patient care. At the same time physicians must independently stay knowledgeable in the field by regularly reviewing authoritative sources of information in prescribing as well as related information in physiology and evidence based medicine.