Taking Your Medicine

Reviewed Mar 23, 2017

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Summary

  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking medications.
  • Keep a detailed record of all medications.
  • Read all dosage instructions and follow them exactly.

If you take any medication on a routine basis, chances are you’ve forgotten a few pills, or fudged the dosage amount. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong. Medication compliance is vital, and disregarding orders for taking meds can have serious or even deadly consequences.

Experts with the Methodist Health Care System define medication compliance as “the extent to which a person’s use of medications coincides with medical or health advice.”

Noncompliance, on the other hand, is “a substantive deviation from the way in which the medication is prescribed,” says Dan Stryer, MD, Acting Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. That definition applies to both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, Dr. Stryer says. For example, while missing one dose out of 30 may not be described as a “substantive deviation,” missing five or 10 would be.
 
Problems linked to noncompliance

Medication noncompliance is a serious problem for a wide range of health problems, resulting in adverse health and economic outcomes, according to the American Medical Association. Some disturbing consequences of noncompliance are:

  • Increased hospitalization, with 10 percent of admissions to hospitals due to not complying with prescribed drug care
  • Cases of people with many illnesses dying, failing to get better, or having their conditions worsen
  • Increased direct costs that range from the added cost of unused drugs to more doctor’s office visits to increased hospitalizations, and indirect costs from lost productivity, absenteeism and lost earnings

Noncompliance takes a toll both on an individual basis and on a societal level, Dr. Stryer points out. For example, noncompliance with antibiotics regimens can cause bacterial resistance to the drug, resulting in problems for sick patientspeople and the doctors trying to treat them, he says.

Causes of noncompliance

There are many reasons people don’t follow medication orders, and the problem affects all segments of the population—although older adults may be at higher risk.

Issues influencing compliance include:

  • The “health literacy” of people—the ability to read and understand drug orders
  • Mental traits and behaviors
  • Forgetfulness or dementia
  • Cost considerations
  • Lack of information or incomplete information about meds from doctors

Even highly motivated people may have trouble following drug regimens, especially those with multiple prescriptions or complicated instructions.

Help with compliance

Experts offer a wide range of ideas for helping with medication compliance—although the best compliance aids vary depending on the person.

  • Before starting a new prescription, ask your doctor about the name of the drug, any potential side effects, the condition it will treat, how it works, when and how you should take it, how long the regimen will last, if it will interact with other drugs or foods, what to do if you forget a dose, and if you can take home printed information about the medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or might become pregnant, and if you have any drug allergies.
  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking meds. Ask about results of tests that show how the meds are working for you, and be sure to bring up any problems you have with them. Talk about how you have felt since you started taking the drug.
  • Keep a record of all meds (including over-the-counter and herbal) you take and discuss them often with your doctor and pharmacists. Drug interactions can be fatal.
  • Read all dosage instructions—whether the drug is a prescription or over-the-counter—and follow them exactly, including using precise measurements. Heed warning labels. Make sure you understand the directions, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Post any printed instructions in an obvious place.
  • Don’t use meds after the expiration date. Throw them out in a place where children or pets can’t find them.
  • If cost is a concern, ask about a generic version or other lower-cost options.
  • If needed, use special tools to help you remember your drug regimens, such as pillboxes, beepers, alarms, or timers.

Dr. Stryer stresses honesty and communication as the main factors in medication compliance. “People have to be honest with themselves and question whether the real problem they’re being noncompliant is that they just don’t remember, or because of some other reason,” he says. “The important thing is that patients talk to their providers and pharmacists about these issues. We should be able to figure out ways to make medication fit with their lifestyle and priorities. They shouldn’t assume they have no choices.”

Resource

National Council on Patient Information and Education
www.bemedwise.org

By Kristen Knight
Source: Dan Stryer, MD; The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Medical Association; Behavioral Associates; Methodist Health Care System; National Council on Patient Information and Education; National Institute on Aging; Ohio State University Research News; The Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Drug Interactions: Protecting Yourself From Dangerous Drug, Medication, and Food Combinations by Melanie Apel Gordon. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1999.

Summary

  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking medications.
  • Keep a detailed record of all medications.
  • Read all dosage instructions and follow them exactly.

If you take any medication on a routine basis, chances are you’ve forgotten a few pills, or fudged the dosage amount. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong. Medication compliance is vital, and disregarding orders for taking meds can have serious or even deadly consequences.

Experts with the Methodist Health Care System define medication compliance as “the extent to which a person’s use of medications coincides with medical or health advice.”

Noncompliance, on the other hand, is “a substantive deviation from the way in which the medication is prescribed,” says Dan Stryer, MD, Acting Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. That definition applies to both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, Dr. Stryer says. For example, while missing one dose out of 30 may not be described as a “substantive deviation,” missing five or 10 would be.
 
Problems linked to noncompliance

Medication noncompliance is a serious problem for a wide range of health problems, resulting in adverse health and economic outcomes, according to the American Medical Association. Some disturbing consequences of noncompliance are:

  • Increased hospitalization, with 10 percent of admissions to hospitals due to not complying with prescribed drug care
  • Cases of people with many illnesses dying, failing to get better, or having their conditions worsen
  • Increased direct costs that range from the added cost of unused drugs to more doctor’s office visits to increased hospitalizations, and indirect costs from lost productivity, absenteeism and lost earnings

Noncompliance takes a toll both on an individual basis and on a societal level, Dr. Stryer points out. For example, noncompliance with antibiotics regimens can cause bacterial resistance to the drug, resulting in problems for sick patientspeople and the doctors trying to treat them, he says.

Causes of noncompliance

There are many reasons people don’t follow medication orders, and the problem affects all segments of the population—although older adults may be at higher risk.

Issues influencing compliance include:

  • The “health literacy” of people—the ability to read and understand drug orders
  • Mental traits and behaviors
  • Forgetfulness or dementia
  • Cost considerations
  • Lack of information or incomplete information about meds from doctors

Even highly motivated people may have trouble following drug regimens, especially those with multiple prescriptions or complicated instructions.

Help with compliance

Experts offer a wide range of ideas for helping with medication compliance—although the best compliance aids vary depending on the person.

  • Before starting a new prescription, ask your doctor about the name of the drug, any potential side effects, the condition it will treat, how it works, when and how you should take it, how long the regimen will last, if it will interact with other drugs or foods, what to do if you forget a dose, and if you can take home printed information about the medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or might become pregnant, and if you have any drug allergies.
  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking meds. Ask about results of tests that show how the meds are working for you, and be sure to bring up any problems you have with them. Talk about how you have felt since you started taking the drug.
  • Keep a record of all meds (including over-the-counter and herbal) you take and discuss them often with your doctor and pharmacists. Drug interactions can be fatal.
  • Read all dosage instructions—whether the drug is a prescription or over-the-counter—and follow them exactly, including using precise measurements. Heed warning labels. Make sure you understand the directions, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Post any printed instructions in an obvious place.
  • Don’t use meds after the expiration date. Throw them out in a place where children or pets can’t find them.
  • If cost is a concern, ask about a generic version or other lower-cost options.
  • If needed, use special tools to help you remember your drug regimens, such as pillboxes, beepers, alarms, or timers.

Dr. Stryer stresses honesty and communication as the main factors in medication compliance. “People have to be honest with themselves and question whether the real problem they’re being noncompliant is that they just don’t remember, or because of some other reason,” he says. “The important thing is that patients talk to their providers and pharmacists about these issues. We should be able to figure out ways to make medication fit with their lifestyle and priorities. They shouldn’t assume they have no choices.”

Resource

National Council on Patient Information and Education
www.bemedwise.org

By Kristen Knight
Source: Dan Stryer, MD; The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Medical Association; Behavioral Associates; Methodist Health Care System; National Council on Patient Information and Education; National Institute on Aging; Ohio State University Research News; The Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Drug Interactions: Protecting Yourself From Dangerous Drug, Medication, and Food Combinations by Melanie Apel Gordon. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1999.

Summary

  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking medications.
  • Keep a detailed record of all medications.
  • Read all dosage instructions and follow them exactly.

If you take any medication on a routine basis, chances are you’ve forgotten a few pills, or fudged the dosage amount. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong. Medication compliance is vital, and disregarding orders for taking meds can have serious or even deadly consequences.

Experts with the Methodist Health Care System define medication compliance as “the extent to which a person’s use of medications coincides with medical or health advice.”

Noncompliance, on the other hand, is “a substantive deviation from the way in which the medication is prescribed,” says Dan Stryer, MD, Acting Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. That definition applies to both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, Dr. Stryer says. For example, while missing one dose out of 30 may not be described as a “substantive deviation,” missing five or 10 would be.
 
Problems linked to noncompliance

Medication noncompliance is a serious problem for a wide range of health problems, resulting in adverse health and economic outcomes, according to the American Medical Association. Some disturbing consequences of noncompliance are:

  • Increased hospitalization, with 10 percent of admissions to hospitals due to not complying with prescribed drug care
  • Cases of people with many illnesses dying, failing to get better, or having their conditions worsen
  • Increased direct costs that range from the added cost of unused drugs to more doctor’s office visits to increased hospitalizations, and indirect costs from lost productivity, absenteeism and lost earnings

Noncompliance takes a toll both on an individual basis and on a societal level, Dr. Stryer points out. For example, noncompliance with antibiotics regimens can cause bacterial resistance to the drug, resulting in problems for sick patientspeople and the doctors trying to treat them, he says.

Causes of noncompliance

There are many reasons people don’t follow medication orders, and the problem affects all segments of the population—although older adults may be at higher risk.

Issues influencing compliance include:

  • The “health literacy” of people—the ability to read and understand drug orders
  • Mental traits and behaviors
  • Forgetfulness or dementia
  • Cost considerations
  • Lack of information or incomplete information about meds from doctors

Even highly motivated people may have trouble following drug regimens, especially those with multiple prescriptions or complicated instructions.

Help with compliance

Experts offer a wide range of ideas for helping with medication compliance—although the best compliance aids vary depending on the person.

  • Before starting a new prescription, ask your doctor about the name of the drug, any potential side effects, the condition it will treat, how it works, when and how you should take it, how long the regimen will last, if it will interact with other drugs or foods, what to do if you forget a dose, and if you can take home printed information about the medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or might become pregnant, and if you have any drug allergies.
  • Work with your doctor while you’re taking meds. Ask about results of tests that show how the meds are working for you, and be sure to bring up any problems you have with them. Talk about how you have felt since you started taking the drug.
  • Keep a record of all meds (including over-the-counter and herbal) you take and discuss them often with your doctor and pharmacists. Drug interactions can be fatal.
  • Read all dosage instructions—whether the drug is a prescription or over-the-counter—and follow them exactly, including using precise measurements. Heed warning labels. Make sure you understand the directions, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Post any printed instructions in an obvious place.
  • Don’t use meds after the expiration date. Throw them out in a place where children or pets can’t find them.
  • If cost is a concern, ask about a generic version or other lower-cost options.
  • If needed, use special tools to help you remember your drug regimens, such as pillboxes, beepers, alarms, or timers.

Dr. Stryer stresses honesty and communication as the main factors in medication compliance. “People have to be honest with themselves and question whether the real problem they’re being noncompliant is that they just don’t remember, or because of some other reason,” he says. “The important thing is that patients talk to their providers and pharmacists about these issues. We should be able to figure out ways to make medication fit with their lifestyle and priorities. They shouldn’t assume they have no choices.”

Resource

National Council on Patient Information and Education
www.bemedwise.org

By Kristen Knight
Source: Dan Stryer, MD; The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Medical Association; Behavioral Associates; Methodist Health Care System; National Council on Patient Information and Education; National Institute on Aging; Ohio State University Research News; The Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Drug Interactions: Protecting Yourself From Dangerous Drug, Medication, and Food Combinations by Melanie Apel Gordon. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1999.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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