In the evening everything is still in order, in the night suddenly fever, nausea or toothache … Illnesses and pains do not depend on appointment calendars or store closing times. But even late at night and on holidays, we can get medication quickly in these situations.
A sophisticated system
The fact that this works is thanks to a cleverly devised emergency service system of pharmacies. 365 days a year, around the clock, we can reach a pharmacist who can provide us with what we need and give us competent advice if we don’t go to the doctor first.
How is this emergency service organized in our country? What problems need to be overcome? We talked about these questions with hans-peter hubmann, spokesman for the kulmbach pharmacists and chairman of the bavarian pharmacists’ association. Who organizes the pharmacy emergency services? The state chamber of pharmacists is responsible for organizing and dividing the 3200 bavarian pharmacies into 180 emergency service districts. In the city of kulmbach, ten pharmacies share this task. The district municipalities are assigned to three other emergency service districts.
What is the maximum distance to the next emergency pharmacy?? Anyone who needs the services of a pharmacy at night or on holidays should not have to travel more than a maximum of 15 kilometers to the next pharmacy on duty. Until about six years ago, the maximum distance to the nearest pharmacy was ten kilometers, says hans-peter hubmann. That is no longer feasible today. The reason: there are fewer pharmacies than before. What is most frequently requested at night and on holidays?? Many patients come in the night with a doctor’s prescription from an emergency practice. But more than one in two customers rings at the pharmacy counter without having seen a doctor first. "Most often, it’s about fever medication for children, remedies for stomach and intestinal infections, and toothache, says hubmann. The morning-after pill is also in demand, especially at weekends for contraceptive mishaps. The drug is for sale "but we don’t dispense it without comment", emphasizes hubmann. "We ask exactly. This is where advice is important. Moreover, we do not hand over the pill to a messenger, but only to the woman directly."
Are there also sometimes difficult situations? "Basically, we are prepared for almost everything. However, it can be problematic if a drug, for example an antibiotic, is prescribed many times in one night. Our stocks are limited." It is also critical when a drug is listed on the prescription that is sold out at the supplier’s or is no longer on the market at all. "In these cases, I would like to have a direct telephone number to the on-call practice, so that I can consult directly with the prescribing doctor about which alternative is the best one. Unfortunately, we pharmacists do not have this possibility so far, although we have requested it many times. We have to dial the general medical emergency number 116117, just like the patients do. This costs an inordinate amount of time." What does a night of emergency service look like? "If you’re on duty, you spend the night at the pharmacy . For this, there is an emergency room with a bed", says hans-peter hubmann. However, the rest periods do not usually last long. Between 10 and 30 times, for example, the person on duty is called to his or her "pharmacy in the fritz" rung out of bed in the course of a night.
As a rule, patients are served via an emergency service counter: "this is not least a question of safety: you never know who is standing in front of the door." How to find the nearest pharmacy on duty? The current duty roster can be found at every pharmacy. The bayerische rundschau publishes the pharmacies on duty in its area of distribution every day on its service page.
Comment: not self-evident
Sooner or later it happens to everyone: we stand at the counter of the emergency pharmacy at night – with a more or less urgent request, but in any case glad that someone is there for us.
When the pressure of personal suffering is not so high, the local pharmacy is often forgotten. The temptation to save a few euros on non-prescription drugs and health products by ordering from an online pharmacy is too great. The share of online trade in total pharmacy sales is growing.
This makes it more difficult in some places to run a pharmacy economically. The consequences are obvious: fewer pharmacies, longer distances to travel. Online pharmacies do not do emergency service.
And even if the round-the-clock service seems self-evident to us – it is not. It’s basically the same as in retail: if we want to have a local structure, we have to support it on an ongoing basis.
Inquiry: is a direct line to the doctor feasible??
A quick call to the doctor on call at night if there are questions about the prescription? So far, this has not been possible, much to the regret of pharmacist spokesman hans-peter hubmann. Especially at night and on holidays there is often a need for a short consultation
Is a direct wire feasible in the future? We have addressed this question to the medical association of upper franconia and the chairman of the medical district association of kulmbach, thomas koch, a doctor from mainleus.
"Currently, contacting a doctor on duty in an on-call practice is only possible via the 116117 service number", according to axel heise, deputy press spokesman for the bavarian association of panel doctors. "So far, we have not had any requests to change this. If there should be a greater need for this, we could have our responsible specialist department examine to what extent and with what technical equipment such a contact possibility could be set up."
On a local level the problem seems to be easier to solve. "We can remedy this without further ado, says thomas koch. "There is a direct number that we are happy to pass on for this purpose."
The doctor from mainleus is full of praise for the cooperation between doctors and pharmacists: "it’s going extremely well. I have been in private practice for almost 34 years and have never had any problems.", he emphasizes. This applies not only to him personally with his mainleus practice, but also to his colleagues in the district association.
Overview: the supply of pharmacies in the city and the district
Emergency service districts the towns and municipalities in the district belong to four of the 180 emergency service districts in bavaria.
City of kulmbach the emergency services are shared by the following ten pharmacies: apotheke am holzmarkt, apotheke im fritz, blaicher apotheke, kranich-apotheke, obere apotheke, sonnen-apotheke, sonnenstern-apotheke, stern-apotheke, zentralplatz-apotheke
Sudlicher landkreis the pharmacies in hollfeld, waischenfeld, ahorntal, glashutten, thurnau, kasendorf and neudrossenfeld take turns providing emergency services.
Northern district the pharmacies in the communities of bad berneck, gefrees, goldkronach, himmelkron, neuenmarkt, stadtsteinach, untersteinach and wirsberg form an emergency service group.
Obermaintal the pharmacy in mainleus, like the pharmacies in altenkunstadt, burgkunstadt, and weismain, belongs to the emergency service district that covers parts of the counties of lichtenfels, kronach, and coburg.