Jane Kim is a fourth year student pharmacist at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She did an internship with Rx Response, focusing on emergency preparedness in the community.
The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and its spread to other countries serves as an urgent warning for U.S. health care systems to be adequately prepared for any emergency. Community pharmacies and pharmacists play a distinct role in our health care system with established relationships with patients and local, state, and federal departments of health as well as accessible distribution networks that remain critical during a PHE1.
Success in the disaster response after Hurricane Katrina was partly attributed to pharmacy continuity services – allowing patients to receive prescriptions from their community pharmacist who ensured safety and accuracy while avoiding crowding of emergency departments2.
For pharmacists to adequately prepare for potential disasters, it is imperative for all states (and the District of Columbia) to clearly define emergency prescription refill protocols and allow pharmacists to dispense an emergency 30-day supply of medications, specifically during times of a public health emergency, and to make this information readily available and accessible to pharmacists and the public.
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