Drug information service is a dedicated and specialized service provided by pharmacists to enhance knowledge of medicines use, promote rational prescribing among prescribers, and reduce medication errors. This service is provided in response to the queries sought by allied health professionals in addressing medication-related problems pertaining to pharmacotherapy and medicine management issues of patients. One of the most important aspects of drug information is to be unbiased in its contents.
• To learn the steps involved in drug information service.
• To learn about the various drug information resources and its applications.
• To improve the writing and communication skills.
1. Secure requestor demographics.
It’s important to know your audience, as your response technique may differ depending on whether the question comes from a health care professional or a patient. For example, you’d use the word “renal” with a pharmacist and “kidney” with a patient. It’s always best to inquire how the requestor would like the information delivered (e.g., phone or fax), as this will help ensure adequate followup.
2. Obtain background information.
This is historically the most difficult step because you must act as a detective. Determine whether it’s a general or patient-specific question, and then identify resources the requestor has already consulted to help facilitate the process. For patient-specific questions, it’s important to inquire about pregnancy, weight, and renal function.
3. Determine and categorize the question.
If a pharmacist requests information about whether a patient who’s breastfeeding can take amoxicillin, this would be classified as a lactation question. Various categories may include pregnancy, drug interaction, pharmacy law, or pill identification.
4. Develop a strategy and conduct a search.
First, begin with tertiary literature, which is a compilation of primary literature. This may include text books like Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation or drug information databases like Clinical Pharmacology or Lexicomp. Next, consult your secondary literature resources, which is the path to primary literature. Secondary resources include PubMed and EMBASE, which will enable you to locate primary literature or original research. It’s important to use reputable resources when researching. When using websites, be sure to consult ones ending in .gov or .org.
5. Perform evaluation, analysis, and synthesis.
Objectively critique all of the information you retrieve from your comprehensive literature search. Also, consider the background information of your question. Consult with pharmacists and other health care professionals with expertise in your specific drug information question.
6. Formulate and provide a response.
Inform the requester when one course of action is more desirable. Present competing viewpoints and considerations. Also, describe your evaluation of the research. Written responses should always be concise and fully referenced.
7. Conduct follow-up and documentation.
Following up is important for ensuring the information was received. Always document your drug information questions so you can refer back to them. You’ll likely see the same question in the future, and this well help serve as a reference point.