Thursday, 5 April 2012

Medications

I regularly see patients who take a laundry list of medications.  For people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, arthritis, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, depression, seizures, and anxiety, I can understand not being able to remember the names and dosages of all 20 of their medications.  But those people better damned well have a printed and laminated list of all of them that they carry around with them wherever they go.  I've seen these lists a few times, and I almost feel like it's a minor miracle.  I've almost hugged a few patients for carrying around their medication menu.

But if you take two or three medications, how difficult is it to remember them?

A patient this morning told me, "I take a little blue one for my heart.  And a round white one for my sugar."

What are they called, sir?

"Hell, I can't remember the names."

Of course you can't.  "Do you remember the dosages at least?"  I asked, thinking I may be able to extrapolate to some of the more common ones.  "Or would you at least recognise the names if I said them?"

"Nope, don't think so, Doc.  Oh, I think one of them starts with a 'p'.  Does that help?"

Seriously?  These are drugs which are prolonging, saving, or otherwise improving your life, and you can't even remember them?  I've talked before about knowing your body, and of all the surgeries I've had (hernia repairs, appendectomy), I can tell you the name of the surgeon and when and where they were done.  That's called being a responsible adult.

Not knowing what you take makes it that much more difficult to take care of you, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when people don't know their own medical or surgical history.  I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about this crap.

Oops - it must be time to take my medicine.  Now if only I could remember which one...

14 comments:

  1. Amazing how stupid some people are... I remember a few years ago when I was 7 or 8 and I had to remember the medicine I had to take for "bedtime".. And an ADULT can't remember? Wow...

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  2. I don't understand that either. I have Lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome, fibromyalgia, sjogren's syndrome, reynaud's, and peripheral neuropathy. I can remember all that, plus all of the many meds I take (and what they look like) and my entire medical history. I also have it in a spreadsheet that I print and take with me to the ER every time. Its not difficult. It just makes sense so I get the best care possible.

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    1. Pagan Princess, as a physician I applaud the fact that you stay on top of your medical problems, and your med list...I assure you that you are the exception to the rule. However, as DocBastard previously alluded too, it would be a really good idea to carry that list (of both your medical problems, and your medications, and any possible allergies) on your person in the event that you either 1) found yourself going to the ER without the time to print your list, or 2) you were unable to communicate for any reason. Believe me...we will appreciate your preparedness SO much! Plus, it's in your own best interest in order to further assist prompt, and appropriate medical care. :)

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  4. Wow... how hard is it to remember 2 medications? Even I can manage that, and I scraped the bottom of some very shallow gene pools when it comes to memory (Don't care if memory is a genetic thing, I'm still using that metaphor).

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  5. If only they had a medication for stupidity...

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  6. Thankfully I am currently on no medication just a regular multi-vitamin but ask me about surgery and bones broken/repaired I'll give you a blank look. I've broken my thumbs multiple times, fractured my ankles a couple times, and I swear there was another bone but it was high school and getting injured was part of playing sports.
    I also have parts of my memory that are just simply missing. Things I've been told I blocked out because of trauma I just couldn't cope with. And then I made it worse with an eating disorder. That whole body eating your brain thing must be true because I know at one point in my life I didn't have memory issues.
    So if I ever end up in your ER I appologize in advance.

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    1. *trauma bay. I do know there's a difference between ER and Trauma...my thumbs somehow typed ER anyways.

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  7. I think more people need to educate themselves on the importance of knowing their medical history and I don't think it is stressed enough. I work in a pharmacy and majority of the elderly customers rely on the pharmacist to determine what "little blue pill" they take actually is. If they can't remember their medication whilst they're holding the scripts in their hands, they at least need to be carrying a list.

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    1. I also work in a pharmacy!

      I was just about to post a very similar comment, but after seeing yours I realize it would be quite redundant! I will add that I have only seen one customer come through with that list. It was actually while I was taking my "Responding to Emergencies" course in college (the instructor was an EMT, so we got the rant on people not carrying a med list with them like every other class). But ya, old guy comes in: "I need to get my meds refilled" I respond, "which ones?" "I don't know the names...[me =blargh!!]...but I have this [hands me the list he keeps in his wallet behind his license! Me = pride]"

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    2. I'm a pharmacist and it never ceases to amaze me. Most patients have no idea what they are taking or what they are taking it for! Patients will call and say, "I need my little white pill filled." Well, that's all well and good, but there are 10 different "little white pills" on your profile. I've had doctors call me all the time wanting med lists for patients because the patients can't list their medications. If I ever get that bad, just admit me to the home!

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  8. At the pediatrician office that I work at (I'm a medical assistant), I was doing a patient history for a new patient. I asked if her son had any allergies to any medications; she said no, she was sure of it. Later, I was going through the paperwork she brought over from her son's last doctor, and it said "Allergic to Amoxicillin".

    When I went up to her and told her this, she said, "Oh! I remember now! He took that once and had a reaction so the doctor told me he was allergic to it; it was rash nothing that huge. Thank you for reminding me."

    I looked at her and screamed in my head, "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW THE MEDICATIONS THAT YOUR SON IS ALLERGIC TO?!" I just nodded my head and left.
    Some people...

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  9. My Grandfather is 85 years old, and is on enough medications to fill up an entire 8.5x11 piece of paper, typed. Why do I know this? Because he has all of his medications typed up and prints a new copy for every doctors appointment. He also has typed up his surgical history (he has heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and on and on). I believe he carries miniaturized copies in his wallet (not that I think you can read them), as well as a card of emergency contacts, listed in order with their relationship as well. Not only that, but if you ask him what his medications he can not only tell you what they are, but when he took them last.
    He never ceases to amaze me. :)

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  10. Names of the surgeons?? forget it (can't click name to faces and I have lousy memory for both) but at least, I pubmed every pills type prescribed to me beside reading PhD thesis on them some of the time.

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