With advancement comes greater responsibilities 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 medicines. This chapter will give you a basic introduction 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, compounding, 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 contraction of the Latin imperative recipio, meaning take thou.
There are several books that contain standardized reference material used throughout the profession. 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 pharmacists: the United States Pharmacopoeia and
National Formulary (USP-NF). It is endowed with legal status by the U.S. Government and its contents have been upheld in courts of law, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court.
It provides regulatory agencies with enforceable standards of purity, quality, and strength for drugs generally accepted by the medical profession. 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 absolutely no doubt as to their efficacy and acceptance 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 prescription 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 information and contains a product identification section that shows drug products in actual size and color.
Remingtons Pharmaceutical Sciences is an excellent source book for compounding information. It is a basic text of pharmaceutical science that is known as the Pharmacists Bible.
Metrology, called the arithmetic of pharmacy, is the science of weights and measures and its application to drugs and their dosage, preparation, compounding, and dispensing.
It is absolutely vital for hospital corpsmen to thoroughly understand the principles and applications of metrology in pharmacy. Without a thorough knowledge of this field, one cannot function adequately in compounding and dispensing drugs. Errors in this area endanger the health, even life of the patient, and lead to embarrassment and tragedy.
This is the official system of weights and measures used in the Navy and is rapidly becoming the universally accepted system through the modern world. As hospital corpsmen, we will concern 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.