I have dealt with numerous complaints from the public and pharmacists alike which, in many cases, indicate that business policies impact negatively on the professional practice of pharmacists. The shortage of pharmacists, the low dispensing fees paid by medical aids, the system of designated service providers and the general supermarket philosophy of lower prices and increased sales volume adopted by some pharmacies are all contributing factors which put pressure on pharmacists to process as many prescriptions as quickly as possible. In this article, examples of actual complaints received are used to illustrate how certain business policies inevitably lead to poor patient care, mistakes or negligence in professional practice, and adversely affect the rights of the pharmacist.
Many suggestions have been made to improve the safe and effective use of medicines. The evidence of their effectiveness is inconclusive. However, one thing is clear. Medicine-taking behaviour is influenced by the perceptions, motives, culture and context of patients. The "caring" part of patient care needs to take this into consideration. This is not easy.