With advancement comes greater respon-
sibilities and more specialized assignments. As you
progress to Hospital Corpsman Third Class and
eventually to Second Class, you will be assigned
duties in specialized departments throughout the
hospital and especially aboard ship. Not only will
your responsibilities increase, but your training
will become more and more diversified.
One of the departments to which you may be
assigned is the pharmacy, where you will assist
in compounding, preparing, and dispensing medi-
cines. This chapter will give you a basic introduc-
tion to the field of pharmacy and prepare you for
the requirements of your next rate.
Pharmacy may be defined as the art and
science of identifying, collecting, standardizing,
and dispensing medicinal
substances of various kinds and combinations
used in preventive and curative medicine.
Pharmacy is symbolized by the superscription
Rx, now generally understood to represent a con-
traction of the Latin imperative recipio, meaning
PUBLICATIONS OF PHARMACY
There are several books that contain standard-
ized reference material used throughout the pro-
fession. You should become familiar with them
and at the earliest opportunity browse through a
copy to get an idea of their contents.
There is one book with official (legal) status
that is a constant source of reference for phar-
macists: the United States Pharmacopoeia and
National Formulary (USP-NF). It is endowed with
legal status by the U.S. Government and its con-
tents have been upheld in courts of law, up to and
including the U.S. Supreme Court.
It provides regulatory agencies with enforce-
able standards of purity, quality, and strength for
drugs generally accepted by the medical profes-
sion. Manufacturers or pharmacists who label
their product as USP must conform to the
standards of preparation set forth therein.
The USP-NF is revised every 5 years. The
drugs and preparations listed and described in the
current USP-NF are only those that have stood
the test of research and continued use, leaving ab-
solutely no doubt as to their efficacy and accep-
tance by the medical professions.
The Physicians Desk Reference is an annual
publication intended primarily for physicians and
is referred to as the PDR. It is usually found in
the pharmacy, on wards, and in clinics of medical
treatment facilities. It provides essential prescrip-
tion information on major pharmaceutical
products as prepared by manufacturers in
consultation with the publisher. It contains five
color-coded sections that aid in finding drug in-
formation and contains a product identification
section that shows drug products in actual size and
Remingtons Pharmaceutical Sciences is an ex-
cellent source book for compounding informa-
tion. It is a basic text of pharmaceutical science
that is known as the Pharmacists Bible.
METROLOGY AND CALCULATION
Metrology, called the arithmetic of pharmacy,
is the science of weights and measures and its ap-
plication to drugs and their dosage, preparation,
compounding, and dispensing.
It is absolutely vital for hospital corpsmen to
thoroughly understand the principles and applica-
tions of metrology in pharmacy. Without a
thorough knowledge of this field, one cannot
function adequately in compounding and dispens-
ing drugs. Errors in this area endanger the health,
even life of the patient, and lead to embarrass-
ment and tragedy.
THE METRIC SYSTEM
This is the official system of weights and
measures used in the Navy and is rapidly becom-
ing the universally accepted system through the
modern world. As hospital corpsmen, we will con-
cern ourselves primarily with the divisions of
weight, volume, and linear measurement of the
metric system. Each of these divisions has a
primary or basic unit.