Differential diagnosis in pharmacy practice: time to adopt clinical reasoning and decision making

Paul M. Rutter, Tim Harrison

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The delivery of healthcare in most developed countries is under increasing pressure. Ageing populations with increasingly complex needs, coupled with financial constraints and imbalances in workforce, mean that healthcare policies look to contain cost and utilise resource as effectively as possible. Self-care is now widely advocated as a mechanism to manage acute presentations with pharmacy identified as a key resource to support such policy. Pharmacy teams are ideally positioned to facilitate the management of patients who present with acute illness. However, current evidence suggests that patient assessment and establishing a differential diagnosis could be better. It appears that how pharmacists are taught at Schools of Pharmacy adopts a protocol driven approach, which assumes presentation of low acuity conditions, and we argue that this method must be replaced with a curriculum that adopts clinical reasoning. This paper sets out the process of clinical reasoning and how the profession could embrace this as a better model in establishing a diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Early online date5 Mar 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 5 Mar 2020


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