Updated: Aug 29
As of June 1st this year, BC Ministry of Health had authorized pharmacists the authority to assess 21 minor ailments, and to prescribe certain prescription medications for these ailments. Since implementation of this policy until now, me and my colleagues have been providing treatments for numerous patients for these ailments on a daily basis. We believe this policy has indeed provided a lot of convenience for patients and alleviated a lot of pressures on our provincial health care system. However, a lot of patients do not know that there are actually limitations for pharmacists to assess and prescribe for these ailments. Hence, we would like to share the following information with you:
21 minor ailments
Please be aware BC pharmacists are limited to perform assessment for the following 21 minor ailments only:
Allergies (allergic rhinitis), Cold sores, Fungal infections, Heartburn (acid reflux), Hemorrhoids, Headaches, Impetigo, Indigestion (upset stomach), Itching, including from bug bites, Menstrual pain, Mild acne, Nicotine dependence, Oral fungal infections (thrush), Oral ulcers (canker sores), Pink eye (conjunctivitis), Shingles, Sprains and strains, Skin rash (dermatitis), Threadworms or pinworms, Uncomplicated urinary tract infection, Vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection),
For all other medical conditions, one must still seek advice from a physician.
Please give pharmacist time to perform assessment
Despite being categorized as “minor ailments”, a pharmacist must ask a list of questions when performing the assessment. Hence, being assessed by a pharmacist is definitely not a one minute conversation thing. Please budget enough time so the pharmacist can do a proper assessment. The pharmacist must then document the rationale why/how she/he reached the diagnosis.
It is highly recommended to book an appointment with your preferred pharmacist for assessment. By doing so, you can avoid the situation where you drop by the pharmacy only to find your pharmacist is already busy or booked with other patients and have to wait another half an hour or 45 minutes.
Even within the 21 minor ailments, pharmacists are only authorized to prescribe medications for minor level illness. Medications reserved for resistant situations still need to be prescribed by a physician.
Notify your family doctor and follow up
Mandated by regulation, pharmacists must send a notification to your family doctor should the pharmacist decide it’s appropriate to dispense a prescription after the assessment. The notification will include the rationale why/how the diagnosis was made and why the medication was dispensed. After 3 to 14 days, again as per regulation, the pharmacist must follow up with the patient to find out if there is improvement with the illness and medications dispensed.
Not sure if your illness can be assessed by a pharmacist? Don’t hesitate, book an appointment with us. Let us do the initial assessment, we can tell you if your illness is within our capability to handle!!
For more information, BC Health Ministry also has a very comprehensive website