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Pharmacists are essential healthcare professionals and are critical members of the whole healthcare team. Pharmacists work in varied settings such as community and hospital, hospice/palliative care industry and regulatory affairs. Regardless of where pharmacists work, and whether their roles provide direct or indirect patient care, all pharmacists contribute to safe and quality health care. Pharmacists may hold roles in many specialty areas of a healthcare system including the emergency department, infectious disease, oncology, pain management and anticoagulation management (1).
Although effective, medicines are often challenging to manage and use appropriately. This is due to a number of factors, such as increasingly complex pharmacotherapies, polypharmacy, ageing populations with multiple diseases, and limited, or inadequately coordinated resources in healthcare systems. While performing a medication review, many pharmacists work together with GPs/consultants to optimise the patient's pharmacotherapy and reduce the potential risks of polypharmacy. An example of an expected health related goal suggested by a patient during a medication review could be a desire to reduce pain. During the medication review, the patient’s pain medication could be optimised by a pharmacist to achieve this goal (1).
Pharmacists are pivotal in the lethal drug medication use process. Assisted suicide(i.e. physician assisted) will not take place without the use of medicat...
Pharmacists are pivotal in the lethal drug medication use process. Assisted suicide(i.e. physician assisted) will not take place without the use of medications dispensed by pharmacists.
Prescribing > Dispensing > Administration
The two quotes below ( (a.) and (b.)) taken from Professor Urban Wiesin’s very stimulating article (2) will be of interest to pharmacists worldwide.
a. “Nobody can be forced to assist with suicide, this is also the case for physicians”.
b. “Doctors ought to have a role in assisted suicide, simply on considering the facts. No other profession can ………. recognise inadequate pain therapy better. No other profession can provide more adequate information about the options for medical treatment of an illness”.
The pharmacy profession worldwide is regularly excluded from conscientious objection provisions in legislation. This exclusion denies the dignity of pharmacists as human beings and their central role in medication use.
The following questions must be asked
• Are pharmacists less dignified/ less free than doctors?
• Are pharmacists lacking in a conscience/ are they robots?
• Is the complex role of pharmacists in assisted suicide not understood / purposely ignored / not visible?
• Are conscientious pharmacists valued by society / health systems/ other professions?
Pharmacists will be at the vortex of some of society’s most controversial moral dilemmas. Pharmacist are highly trained professionals with moral, ethical and legal accountability. The human rights and dignity of pharmacists must be recognised and protected.
(1) www.fip.org/file/4757 Patient safety .Pharmacists’ role in “Medication without harm” 2020. FIP. International Pharmaceutical Federation.
(2) Wiesing U The Judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court regarding assisted suicide: a template for pluralistic states?Journal of Medical Ethics Published Online First: 11 June 2021. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2021-107233