Pharmacists asked to limit exposure of other customers to potential cases

HSE proposes people wait in car for prescriptions, designated area for consultations

Pharmacists have been asked to consider asking patients with respiratory complaints to wait in their car while a prescription is filled out and to place a phone in consultation rooms in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Interim guidance which was issued by the HSE and Health Protection Surveillance Centre has asked pharmacists to consider how they can limit the exposure of other customers without causing “undue distress or embarrassment” to a potential patient.

Pharmacists have been asked to consider how they might rapidly identify and direct individuals who present with respiratory complaints and who ask for a consultation.

The advice says that consideration should be given to asking patients with respiratory tract infection to wait in their car while their prescription is being filled, if they travelled by car.


The advice also says that there should be a “clearly designated area” for consultations and that pharmacists should check if that area allows for a physical separation of one metre.

Ideally this should be a room with a door that can be closed.


“If possible consider having a telephone available in the room so that consultation can be carried out over the phone.”

Consideration should also be given to texting customers advising those with a relevant travel history or respiratory symptoms not to attend the pharmacy in person but to call in advance.

If a patient presents with a relevant travel history and coronavirus (also known as Covid-19) symptoms, there is provision being made for testing in the pharmacy by public health teams if the person cannot return home.

“Currently those who fit the criteria for testing may be offered testing in their own home. If it is not possible for the individual to return to their own home by car or without using public transport then the national ambulance service may be contacted by public health to undertake testing in the pharmacy.”

The document states that pharmacists “play a key role in supporting public health and in particular are recognised as a valuable resource for members of the public who are seeking reassurance and information.

“They may also be the first point of contact for those with mild respiratory symptoms.

“Pharmacists may also have contact with patients with respiratory tract infection who have come to have prescriptions filled. “Although this cohort of patients have been assessed by a doctor prior to issue of prescription it is appropriate to take general precautions to reduce risk of transmission of respiratory tract viruses.”

The information says "most patients who present to community pharmacists are unlikely to have the virus, however, it is essential that pharmacists maintain awareness of the up to date information on the epidemiology of Covid-19 in Ireland. "

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times