When treating patients of all ages, genders, and medical histories, pharmacists must consider the best practices on a case-by-case basis. However, adolescent patients often have additional clinical challenges — and even restrictions — that may be a bit harder to prepare for and address as a pharmacist. Here’s a look at some of the top challenges pharmacists face when caring for adolescent patients.
Consent and Confidentiality
Adequate training on the topics of adolescent consent and confidentiality are invaluable to pharmacists with teenage patients, as it will better inform the decision to prescribe or recommend medications. Furthermore, when treating teenage patients, it’s imperative that pharmacists are aware of ways in which the rules of confidentiality may vary among young patients and have a thorough understanding of HIPAA regulations as they pertain to adolescents in particular.
Patient Questions and Concerns
Pharmacists have an opportunity to educate adolescents on medical alternatives that can be pivotal to their health and wellness. However, when answering questions directly from teenage patients or from their parents, pharmacists must understand how to clearly communicate the risks and benefits of such options. And if a patient’s parent is potentially making it difficult for the teen to speak up or ask questions, pharmacists must know when to employ their authority and request privacy, if optional.
Prescriptions and Authority
While the degree of authority that pharmacists have with regards to prescribing medications is growing, it isn’t unlimited. Therefore, pharmacists must be aware of the prescribing restrictions they face on a state-by-state basis. Furthermore, when prescribing medications to adolescents, pharmacists must be especially aware of the necessary dosage adjustments. Considering a medication’s recommended dosage for age, weight, and other factors, pharmacists must employ their best judgement and clinical expertise when amending prescriptions for teenage patients.
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