The Apotheke—Your First Point of Care

The desire to enter a doctor’s office or emergency room these days is lower than ever. If you have a serious medical problem, you will obviously need to visit these healthcare providers. For other ailments, however, such as rashes, infections, sprains, cuts, burns, or small wounds, you can also head to your local pharmacy (“Apotheke,” not “Drogerie”).

Here in Switzerland, a visit to the pharmacy is often the first point of care for people suffering from common complaints. Pharmacists are well trained in this respect, and there are ample over-the-counter medications and healthcare products to effectively treat such ailments. Pharmacists are great at assessing and treating minor ailments; using the products they have in store, they will tend to your ailment, show or explain how to continue care at home, and sell you the remainder of the merchandise utilized. If your issue requires further evaluation than they are able to provide (eg, blood or urine tests, X-rays, or prescriptions), they will recommend that you visit your doctor, health clinic, or emergency room.

Many pharmacies also offer testing for illnesses (eg, COVID-19) as well as vaccinations, including vaccinations against coronavirus, the flu, or tick-borne encephalitis.

Statistics show that an estimated two-thirds of visits to doctor’s offices, medical clinics, or emergency rooms are unnecessary, because many of the ailments that prompt the visits can well be treated with a simple trip to the pharmacy. So why not consider your local Apotheke as a quasi-triage or first point of care next time you suffer from a common complaint.