Medication mistakes to avoid

Are you doing the right things to make your medicines work for you? The medicines your doctor prescribes are meant to improve your health. But you could be making risky mistakes without even realizing it.

“Medication compliance is probably the most important medication mistake patients make, notes Jason Faber, MD, an internist with Kettering Physician Network’s Sycamore Primary Care Group in Miamisburg. “It is a common, problematic issue and is estimated to occur in 50 percent of patients treated for chronic medical issues.”

Medication mistakes are estimated to cost $290-$300 billion in the United States yearly. “It is important for patients to make sure they clearly understand their medication regimen, advises Dr. Faber.

Here are potential pitfalls you want to avoid:

You fail to speak up. Did your doctor say to take your medicine before-or after-meals? Do not guess when it comes to your medicine. A wrong choice could make a drug less effective or cause serious problems. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist questions if you don’t understand something about your medications. You can also request that he or she write information down for you.

“Writing down and documenting your medication regimen can be helpful in both remembering and communicating with the doctor at each visit,” says Dr. Faber, “so bringing a list of your current prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as a list of questions can help clarify a complicated medication regimen.”

You use multiple pharmacies. Getting all of your prescriptions filled at just one pharmacy helps protect your health. Your medication records will be in a single place. This can help the pharmacist spot any possible dangerous interactions between your medications.

You overlook instructions. When a medicine isn’t taken exactly as directed, it may do more harm than good. Always read the information that comes with a medicine and follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice for taking it.

If you have a hard time remembering when to take your medicine, keep a written or computerized schedule. You may want to link taking the medications with daily activities, such as eating a meal or going to bed.

You don’t stay the course. It’s important to stick with a medication unless your doctor tells you it’s OK to stop. Do not stop taking a drug just because:

• You feel better and think you do not need it anymore. Let your doctor make that decision.

• You are having bothersome side effects. Call your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a different drug with fewer side effects.

• You are struggling to pay for it. If you cannot afford a medication, ask your doctor about generic drugs or other lower-cost options.

Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system that improves quality of life through healthcare and education. The Network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin.