Monday, May 09, 2011

Pills Pills Pills

I had a conversation with my dad the other day after he saw his doctor. Some changes were made to his blood pressure medications. However, he did not recall the names, nor the doses.

Which got me thinking about how frequently I see this on the other end, as the treating physician. Patients who have no clue what they are taking, besides "A round yellow pill, and a square blue one...". I've had to, on occasions, call the pharmacy to verify their medlist. And while PDA or online pill identifiers are available, taking that 10 mins to look up your pills means I have 10 mins less to discuss something else with you.

In the world of medicine, especially geriatric medicine when a patient may be taking upwards of 12 different types of medications, I can certainly understand how overwhelming and confusing medication names may be.

Plus, the people who actually name the pills give them such tongue-twisting megamulti-syllable names. Ah, if only medications were called Blood Pressure Pill A, and Diabetes Pill 2.0, life would be so much simpler.

But no. We call meds Gorillastatin or Kombimetforglitazone or something fancier.

Having said all that though, one tip I share with many patients, and my dad, was:

It's always a good idea to know the names of the medication you're taking, the dosages and the indication.

Keep a folder somewhere with all your medical information. Health history, previous medications, current medications, allergies. Previous test results, names of doctors.

After all, we all keep a file of our bills, car and life insurance information. Contact details of ex-girlfriends (oops).

So why not our health?

Plus, this helps your other doctors understand what you're already taking, while minimizing the risk of medication duplication or interaction, and the risk of side effects.

Update this folder regularly, and carry a miniaturized version in your wallet, and bring it to all health visits.

Your doctors will thank you for it. But much more importantly, you will be a much safer patient.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, doc, for the timely reminder. We, ie spouse and self, think we can remember what and its dosage we are taking but in times of emergencies,can't even recall the color and shape of them.
Will start to keep a record.Your advice is very much appreciated.

2:02 AM  
Anonymous mumbler said...

common too here in Sg. at least some can say "the orange pill daily". i can't stand those who tell me, "but it's on your computer system what, why are you asking me??"

my dad was like yours too. after coming back from his monthly GP visits, i would ask how his BP was, he would say he didn't know. had to gently remind him that he used to run his own business, so remembering a couple of figures shouldn't be too hard. after that he got more involved in the monitoring, and even bought a BP set!!

we singaporeans/malaysians are all alike haha.

8:11 AM  
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