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Community pharmacies help treat diarrhoea

Community pharmacies help treat diarrhoea

21 February 2014

A two-year health pilot in community pharmacies aimed at reducing risks of dehydration due to gastroenteritis in children, is proving its worth with impressive uptake throughout the MidCentral region.

Funded by MidCentral District Health Board, the community pharmacy Paediatric Gastroenteritis Service is available to children aged three months to 16 years of age, allowing specially trained community pharmacists to assess children suffering from gastroenteritis, while providing treatment and education to mild cases at no cost to the family.

To the end of December 2013, the service was provided by all but three of MidCentral’s community pharmacies and was used by 91 children - 87 of these being managed within the pharmacy.

MidCentral DHB Pharmacy Advisor Andrew Orange said the benefits of using community pharmacists means professional advice is more accessible, with early treatment aiming to prevent a more serious condition that requires a trip to the hospital’s emergency department.

“The service aims to reduce the likelihood of cases that can be easily treated at home, presenting in ED. If a child needs to be hospitalised, the length of stay should be significantly reduced.

“Early indications are that the service has been successful, and to date, we know of only two children that have been assessed and managed by a pharmacist who then needed an ED visit – with only one needing a brief stay in the children’s ward.”

Foxton’s Amcal Gimbletts Pharmacy has seen a large number of families use the programme, showing demand for such an initiative is there.

Pharmacy owner Neville Gimblett said: “Gastroenteritis re-hydration therapy is a great idea, especially in a small town like Foxton as we are quite distant from the hospital.

“Providing such a service does not only calm the worrying parents who are unable to seek immediate medical attention, it also helps reduce potential hospital visits as most mild cases can be treated within the pharmacy itself at no charge.”

Another feature of the programme is that along with the patient’s general practitioner, MidCentral District Health Board’s Public Health Unit is notified of any cases of gastroenteritis, so any potential outbreaks can be tracked.

The programme is nearing the end of its two-year pilot stage and is about to be reviewed.

ENDS

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