Don't Know, Don't Answer 
Author Message
 Don't Know, Don't Answer

I wrote an article, which I believe appears in the current issue of Internet
World, offering my own judgements of the various* newsgroups.  One
point that I tried to make is that in addition to the traditional adage
"think before you post", this group, and others like it, require the added
caveat "think after you get the answer".
        People are interested in their health, and the {*filter*} they take, and
this is, by its nature, an open forum.  If we, professionals (meaning that
we make a living from this stuff) wish to be exclusive, there are a variety
of alternative forums which are more exclusive.  The presence of this group
on the net represents an opportunity not only for discussion of drug distri-
bution and chemo reconstitution, if anybody cares to start a thread, but for
people with legitimate questions to raise them, in the hope of obtaining
valid answers.  This is comparable to people discussing their diseases in
a physician's waiting room.  It is also comparable to people taking the PDR
out of the Public Library.  I give a very nice lecture about the lack of
value of the PDR (usually I advocate AHFS-Drug Information as the best
overall reference) but the PDR, which is a lousy text for somebody with no
background, remains the most popular reference.
        Simply, people are going to post to this group, much the way a
recent college grad who had too many gift pens offered to sell them with
a posting on misc.writing.  Where else would he go?
        That leaves questions to be answered.  Unlike,
where a small carde of dentists seems willing to field anything that comes
up, we have no group of volunteer drug information specialists, and so the
vacuum will be filled.  In my own mind, we should be especially thankful
that Steve Dyer has been available to offer a service that we have not.  My
impression is that his replies have been acurate and complete - and if
they are not always atuned to the highly specific needs of the individual
who did the posting, that's the nature, not of Steve Dyer, but our own
profession, which too often is drug oriented instead of patient oriented.
Both the PDR and the average counseling session usually begins by telling
the patient what the drug is for, instead of finding out what the drug is
being used to treat (can any pharmacist deny telling a patient that ami-
trityline is an antidepressant when it's being used as an analgesic -
therby leading the patient to believe that the MD has concluded that the
patient is not really in pain, etc?)  The problem lies in the way we have
framed our own practice.
        In terms of qualifications, while degrees usually provide an
assurance of training, there is nothing exclusive about knowledge.  Two
of the formost historians of our time, Barbara Tuichman and Arthur Schlesinger
Jr. never obtained formal qualifications in history - but the Pulitzer
Prize Committee didn't seem to mind.  I started this entry by mentioning
an article that I wrote - even though I have no qualifications other than
the fact that I passed freshman English.  The quality of a person's work
sometimes hinges on training - but in this case it's available for anybody
to examine, and can be judged solely on its own merits.
        Even if this group does not serve as a forum for discussion of
Pharmacy practice, it still serves a useful purpose.  If inaccurate or
in some way misleading replies to questions are posted (and they will be,
regardless of who does the posting, because no general answer can ever be
applicable to a specific case), then elucidation may be appropriate.  But
there is nothing gained by turning this into
        In an earlier post, I spoke favorably of Mr. Dyer's efforts, and
I'd like to repeat that.  He has filled a void left by RPhs who prefer
to pick up their bat and bll and go elsewhere, and he has generally done
it with a high degree of knowledge and skill.
Sam Uretsky, Pharm.D.
P.S. - I'm rather tired of the Prozac thread too, but it seems to be
        fashionable right now and there's no hope of ending it soon.

Sat, 05 Oct 1996 10:42:12 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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