Aims: To evaluate the professional contact between the community pharmacist and general practitioner during the dispensing process on issues other than the legality or simple clarification of the prescription.
Methods: Fourteen community pharmacists from five adjacent localities completed details of each clinical pharmacy intervention during 1 week of each month for a period of 1 year. Each week of the month was randomly selected. When a community pharmacist had to contact the prescriber, during the dispensing of a prescription, the following data were recorded: brief patient details, the prescribed drug therapy, the reason for intervention, the outcome and the time taken. The main outcome measures were the type and nature of each intervention, the BNF category of the drug involved and the time taken. A multidisciplinary clinical panel assessed the potential of each intervention to alter the outcome of the patient's clinical management and to prevent a drug related hospital admission. These assessments were ranked between 0 and 10 (100% confident).
Results: During a period covering 1 week per month over 1 year, 1503 clinical pharmacy interventions were made out of 201 000 items dispensed. When normalized for the dispensing volume of each community pharmacy the lower the number of items dispensed then the greater was the percentage of interventions (P=0.013). The clinical panel decided that between 19 (0.01% of the total items dispensed) and 242 (0.12%) interventions may have prevented a drug-related hospital admission, 71 (0.04%) to 483 (0.24%) could have prevented harm whilst 103 (0.05%) to 364 (0.18%) had the potential to improve the efficacy of the intended therapeutic plan. The panel also decided that 748 (0.37%) interventions improved the clinical outcome and could have saved a visit to or by the general practitioner. Conclusion Clinical pharmacy provided by a community pharmacist during the dispensing process has the potential to provide a valuable contribution to health care.