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"Face-to-face" counseling obligation of New York pharmacies for people with disabilities.

Photograph:  Semi-closed human hand filled with pills, with pill containers behind.

In New York State, for on-premises pharmaceutical delivery/pick-up by a patient or patient representative, pharmacists have a mandatory, non-delegable legal duty, pursuant to 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 63.6(b)(8)(i)(a), to personally counsel each patient or patient representative “on the premises of the pharmacy … who presents a prescription … in person in a face-to-face meeting whenever practicable, or by telephone, matters which in the exercise of the pharmacist's or pharmacy intern's professional judgment, the pharmacist or pharmacy intern deems appropriate,” such as the name of the medication, the dosage, route of delivery, and duration of therapy, precautions for preparation, common side effects or adverse effects, contraindications, and storage, unless such counseling is refused. 

If such contemporaneous, personal, face-to-face counseling on the premises of the pharmacy is refused, the regulation requires that the refusal to accept counseling “is documented in the records of the pharmacy.”  8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 63.6(b)(8)(c).

Most of us who have full sensory abilities to see and hear take these kinds of healthcare interactions at a pharmacy for granted.  We don’t even think about it. 

But imagine for a moment you are blind or deaf, or have a serious vision impairment or a utilize a cochlear implant for hearing loss.  What would you do to ensure you know all about your medicine in consultation with a pharmacist referring to a prescription label you cannot see, or a speaking with a pharmacist you cannot hear? 

Let’s turn that question around -- because more importantly, what would the pharmacy and pharmacist do to provide full and effective communication to you so that you get the right medications and have all your questions answered while you are in the pharmacy -- as the law requires?

Too many people with vision and hearing disabilities get little or no accommodation from pharmacies and pharmacists to ensure equality of communication with those without any disability.  That’s wrong, and it is against Federal and New York State law.

If you or someone you know has not been provided equal and effective communication at a pharmacy, call or email me.  I may be able to help.

James Snyder