Multidisciplinary working: an example

Today is the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games but the medical services have been up and running for ten days. This allows athletes and other team members time to settle into their new surroundings, recover from travel and complete final preparations for their events. We have been getting busier every day as the village population grows and athletes try to ensure they are in top physical condition for the competition.

I mentioned the range of healthcare professionals in the polyclinic in my last post. We have briefings with all departments twice a day which helps to foster the understanding of how everybody works and which professionals are able to support the others. The photograph shows the briefing for all staff on the first day of operation. We have built up very good relationships with the optometry team who are based across the corridor from the pharmacy and that has been useful in dealing with one specific case.

One of the coaches approached the pharmacy looking for treatment for a headache. He explained that the pain was at the front of his head, just above the eyes. On questioning he said that he hadn’t had any injury and so far hadn’t taken any medication for the pain and was on no other regular medication. The pharmacist dealing with him realised that he had seen one of the ophthalmologists the day before and had been given a prescription for carbomellose eye drops. The patient’s eyes were very bloodshot. With the patient’s permission, the pharmacist asked one of the optometry team for an opinion. The ophthalmologist who had seen the patient wasn’t on duty that day, however another team member took the patient in and performed a thorough examination. They were able to confirm that there was nothing in terms of eye health that would be likely to be related to the headache. The pharmacist was then able to complete the minor ailment assessment and provide the patient with a small supply of medication.

The polyclinic operates in a slightly unusual sphere of practice where there is a mix of what would traditionally be considered primary care services sitting alongside traditionally acute care services. We have been involved in discussions regarding choice of parenteral antibiotics for a patient with cellulitis who was not responding to oral therapy and also about appropriate stocks of first-line antibiotics for illnesses that could potentially present to the Polyclinic. As well as the knowledge of the team in the pharmacy, I have been given advice and support from the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde antimicrobial management team to ensure choices in this setting are consistent with local efforts to ensure safe antibiotic use.

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