Assessing and Prescribing for Minor Ailments

Pharmacists in Nova Scotia can assess and prescribe for minor ailments.

What is a Minor Ailment?

A minor ailment is:

  • A condition that can be managed with minimal treatment and/or self care strategies
  • Usually a short term condition
  • Does not require any blood work or lab tests
  • Can be managed by your pharmacist at the pharmacy
  • Not intended to replace regular visits with your pharmacy care provider

A minor ailment can be treated with:

  • “At-home” or self-care treatments
  • Over-the-counter medication treatments
  • Prescription medications

The following are possible Minor Ailments that your pharmacist can assess and prescribe for:

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (acid reflux)
  • Nausea
  • Non-infectious Diarrhea
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Cough
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Mild Headache
  • Minor Muscle Pain
  • Minor Joint Pain
  • Minor Sleep Disorders
  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
  • Emergency Contraception
  • Xerophthalmia (dry eyes)
  • Oral Ulcers
  • Oral Fungal Infection (thrush)
  • Fungal Infections of the Skin (such as Athlete’s Foot)
  • Vaginal Candidiasis (yeast infection)
  • Threadworms and Pinworms
  • Herpes Simplex (cold sores)
  • Contact Allergic Dermatitis (skin reaction from coming into contact with an allergen)
  • Mild Acne
  • Mild to Moderate Eczema
  • Mild Urticaria (including bites and stings) (hives)
  • Impetigo
  • Dandruff
  • Calluses and Corns
  • Warts (excluding facial and genital)
  • Smoking Cessation

What happens during an assessment?

  • The pharmacist will explain the process and obtain your consent to complete an assessment
  • You will meet with the pharmacist in a private counselling room, usually next to the pharmacy
    • Some pharmacies may require an appointment
  • The pharmacist will have a detailed discussion with you to assess your ailment
    • The pharmacist will ask what medical conditions you have, what medications you take, what kind of symptoms you are having, and how long have you had them
  • At this point, the pharmacist will make a recommendation for an over-the-counter medication or a prescription medication
    • If the pharmacist believes your condition is more serious they will refer you to your doctor.
  • Prescriptions written by a pharmacist are paid for by both provincial and private drug plans, as long as that medication would normally be a benefit
  • There is a fee for the assessment, whether or not the pharmacist prescribes something. This service is not yet covered by any provincial or private drug plans.
    • There will be a pilot program in 2015 for people with provincial drug coverage, to have the cost of the assessment paid for, for certain minor ailments – check with your pharmacist for more information

What happens after the assessment?

  • If a medication is prescribed during the assessment, the pharmacist will prepare your prescription or you can take the prescription to another pharmacy to be filled
  • The pharmacist then sends notification to your doctor for their records
    • If you do not have a doctor you can be given a copy of the doctor’s notice to keep until you have a doctor
  • The pharmacist will call you a few days later to see how you feel. Depending on how you are doing, the pharmacist will tell you to continue your treatment, they will make a different recommendation, or tell you if you need to see your doctor

Do all pharmacies in Nova Scotia offer minor ailment assessment and prescribing services?

  • Most, but not all, pharmacies in Nova Scotia provide minor ailment assessment and prescribing services.*

Will I need to pay to have a minor ailment assessed?

  • Fees may vary by pharmacy*

* Please contact your pharmacy for more information