Talking about Your Medicines Can Help You Stay Healthy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(August 21, 2006—Austin, TX)—According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, there’s a 76 percent discrepancy between what medicines doctors prescribe to patients and what medicine these patients really take. Some of the inconsistency stems from patients not taking their prescribed medicine, patients taking medicine that’s not prescribed and/or patients taking the wrong dosages.
“This study stresses the need to open the lines of communication between the doctor, patient and pharmacist,” said Abraham Delgado, MD, FACP, medical director, TMF Health Quality Institute. “If you can’t finish your medicine, you can’t afford it or are having trouble taking it, as your doctor, I would want to know so that we can talk about other options and avoid any potential for harm.” In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that medication-related problems resulted in 106,000 deaths annually.
Delgado believes that patients can protect themselves by being proactive anytime a medicine is prescribed to them. “As you leave the doctor’s office with your new prescription, make sure you know how to take your medicine, when to take it and that you understand what you are taking it for,” he said.
Robert Talbert, PharmD, is a professor of pharmacy at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He advises patients to schedule a yearly “check-up” with their pharmacists just as they would schedule an annual physical with their physician. If patients are using more than one pharmacy or pharmacist, they should carry a list of all of their medications to the pharmacy at each visit and review them with the pharmacist. For mail order prescriptions, patients may want to call after refills or if they have other questions about their medications.
“Take all of your medications and over-the-counter products with you, including any herbs, vitamins, dietary supplements, ointments and creams,” said Talbert. “Your pharmacist can check for drug duplications, medicines that don’t mix well together and help you to understand more about the drugs you are taking. At least one health care professional, either your doctor or pharmacist, should know everything that you are taking.”
The following tips will help you safely manage your medicines:
- Follow the doctor's instructions and read (and keep) the package insert information, if available.
- Take your medicine for the whole time it is prescribed, even if you feel better.
- Do not skip doses of medication or take half doses to save money. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you can’t afford the prescribed medicine. There may be less costly choices or special programs to help with the cost of certain drugs.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are having side effects.
- Get prescriptions refilled early enough to avoid running out of medicine.
- If you take more than one medicine, be able to tell them apart by size, shape, color, number or name imprint, form (tablet or capsule) or container.
- Make a list of all the medicines you take. Show it to all your health care providers including physical therapists and dentists. The list should include the name of each medicine, doctor who prescribed it, reason it was prescribed, amount you take, and time(s) you take it. Be sure to add any new medicines to your list.
- Dispose of medications that have gone out of date and store medications in a dry, cool place (not the bathroom).
About TMF Health Quality Institute
TMF Health Quality Institute, formerly Texas Medical Foundation, is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit consulting company focused on promoting quality health and health care through contracts with federal, state and local governments, as well as private organizations. TMF partners with health care providers in a variety of settings to ensure that every person receives the appropriate care, every time.