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Patients with special needs get helping hand.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Julie Esterbrook discovered an unmet need in pharmacy while talking to a blind patient. The woman, whose husband is also blind, said they had accidentally taken each other's medications because of an inability to differentiate between their bottles.

Realizing that bottle labels are useless for visually impaired people, Esterbrook acquired a handheld Braille label maker. The device allows her to pant out the name of a drug as well as the patient's name and stick it on top of the pharmacy label.

"I'm hoping that eventually we can get a device to print the whole prescription label in Braille," she comments. "But I've had a very good response from the handheld product. The couple and other visually impaired patients have said, 'I'm actually able to read my medication. That's so exciting.'"

Another group with special needs for which Esterbrook has tailored her services is people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Having had special training to deal with patients with the virus, she has been able to monitor them, ensure they are getting medications on time and watch out for drug interactions. When they have had big co-payments she has looked out for discount coupons for their drugs.

HIV patients have customarily responded by asking to speak to only her, she says, in some cases seeking her assurance that a new prescription is appropriate.

"That's very rewarding," she remarks. "It makes me see that my work is making a difference."

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Title Annotation:Excellence in Pharmacy Practice
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Oct 24, 2011
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