Minor Ailments

Did you know pharmacists in Saskatchewan can prescribe for minor ailments?

If the condition and treatment required is within pharmacists’ prescribing limits, you may still receive treatment even if you do not have a doctor.

This service is intended to improve access to health care.

Prescribing is allowed in various circumstances (see list below) and when pharmacists have advanced skills.

Instead of having to contact your doctor first, your pharmacist can make these prescribing decisions for you and then tell your doctor about them. For example:

Continuing maintenance therapy – You are taking medications regularly, your prescription has run out and you can’t get in to see your doctor for several days. Your pharmacist can provide the supply you need until you are able to visit your doctor, and will let your doctor know.

Emergencies – You take a medication once in a while when needed, or perhaps regularly. You are on a trip, have left this medication at home and need it. Your pharmacist can provide you with a supply until you return home, and will let your doctor know.

Incomplete prescriptions – Sometimes your doctor will inadvertently forget to include some details important to your pharmacist about the drug being prescribed for you. Because your pharmacist knows you and your doctor and is reasonably certain of your doctor’s intent, s/he fills in the details to complete the prescription. Again, your pharmacist will let your doctor know.

Physician’s absence – Doctors sometimes temporally leave their practices for extended periods of time, such as for vacation or education. When that happens, they can leave instructions with your pharmacist to continue the medications for you and other patients if prescriptions run out while s/he is away.

Seamless care – When you are ill and admitted to a health care facility, your medications can change. If you are transferred from that health care setting to another, for example are discharged and return to your community, your pharmacist can make sure that your new medication therapy continues uninterrupted. Again, your pharmacist will let your doctor know.

Self-care – see “What is a minor ailment and what can my pharmacist do to help?’ and “What happens if the minor ailment turns out to be more serious?” questions.

A minor ailment is generally a condition that is less serious for which you can look after yourself and may not need to see your doctor. For some ailments, your pharmacist can provide you with a limited course of treatment with a prescription drug that may be more effective than an over-the-counter medication.

Minor ailments, besides being less serious, can also be self-limiting meaning that they only last for a short period of time. Many medications and remedies are available to you over-the-counter without a doctor’s prescription to help you treat these ailments yourself. Your pharmacist can continue to help you with selecting the most appropriate remedy or medication and is able to provide prescription drugs for some ailments such as:

  • mild acne
  • hay fever, seasonal allergies
  • cold sores
  • diaper rash
  • insect bites
  • canker sores
  • oral thrush
  • painful menstruation
  • gastric reflux
  • headache
  • hemorrhoids
  • muscle strains and sprains
  • bacterial skin infections
  • athlete’s foot, ringworm, groin itch
  • emergency contraception
  • bladder infections (urinary tract infections)
  • birth control
  • bladder infections (urinary tract infections)
  • Shingles
  • Eye infection (conjunctivitis)
  • Influenza (in epidemic or pandemic situations)
  • Nail Fungus (onychomycosis)

Over-the-counter remedies you have tried do not help. Your pharmacist will help you assess your need for relief and may be able to provide a prescription drug that is a better option for you.