Patient education is an important part of your medical care. This is especially true in the Pharmacy profession. Pharmacists are no longer pill counters and drug warehouses.
Your pharmacist is a source of education and information on all drugs as well as your individual prescriptions. In California, it is written into pharmacy law that all patients must be given education and consultation with each new prescription. Your pharmacist is under a legal duty to provide you with information, education, and a consultation, all at no charge. This is one of the greatest bargains in the health care system today. At the time of refill, patients should bring up any side effects or concerns that may need to be addressed. Patients may also call their pharmacist and speak directly about their concerns. If a patient uses a mail order service, they must provide consultation as well.
When patients pick up a prescription, they are given a patient information brochure. I encourage my patients to always save these printouts. They are very good information sources that usually answer frequently asked questions (FAQs). If a patient is having a suspected side effect, I suggest they first consult their patient information brochure before calling the pharmacy. And, always let your doctor know if you suspect side effects.
As patients sometimes have more complicated medical histories, multiple diagnoses require multiple prescriptions. Many times I have heard senior citizens complain of “pills, pills and more pills.” This is usually the patient who has been in excellent health their entire life and feels like they are losing control of their life to “pills” which they never took in the first place. I think the entire health profession needs to respect their patient’s concerns. Moreover, the educated patient should continually question their Health Care Provider as to what the goal of therapy is and what the plan of therapy is.
Another aspect of proper medication therapy is the sequence of proper administration. In plain language, what pill should be taken at what time? This is not always clear when a patient leaves the medical office. I encourage patients to always place a call to the medical office and if the doctor is not available, to leave a message that the MD can respond to. I also encourage patients in this situation to refer back to the patient information brochure from the pharmacy, and follow the suggested dose. For example, if the patient takes oral medication for the control of high blood sugar the prescription may be more effective if taken before a meal, where other medications can be taken at meal time.
Multiple medications can be a challenge for some patients. I encourage patients to make a list of medications and dosage times and post it in a convenient location such as in the medicine cabinet or on the refrigerator door. Again, if there is any doubt, ask your pharmacist. The patient is entitled to know precisely which medication to take at the most appropriate time.
The internet is a very good source of free information. Caution should be used however to avoid websites that provide inaccurate or incomplete information. There are some very good web sites that are getting better every day. Here are a few: WebMD, drugs.com, and the web page for AARP. Also, check the web page for the pharmacy you filled your prescription at.
Jon Bartlett RPH
For information related to your home care service, always call the staff at Affordable & Quality Home Care Services in Fallbrook 760-468-3075.