You Have the Right to Know

Madam A, a hypertensive woman had diarrhoea for three days in a row, and she experienced weakness after each stool. She was alarmed and went to the hospital. The doctor prescribed a drug for her and asked her to pick it up at the Pharmacy unit of the hospital.

Madam A picked up the medication and took 2 capsules daily continuously for 5 days even after the stools stopped. She then found it to very difficult to pass stool.

In fear, not knowing which of her medications was making her constipated, she stopped taking everything including her anti-hypertensive, which put her back in the hospital with a hypertensive crisis.

So, what do you think went wrong?

According to Madam A, she was told to take the drug twice daily as was written on the dispensing envelop.

Proper counselling of patients on drug use is important as the goal of therapy is to improve the patient’s quality of life and wellbeing. As health professionals, we need good communication and listening skills to inform patients, check if they understand and clarify their thoughts and beliefs.

When counselling patients on drug use and how to take their medicines, we should give the following information.

• What the medication is for.

• How to take the drug(s).

• When to take the drug(s)

• Side effects of the drug(s).

• Possible drug reactions.

• What to do if the patient experiences some adverse effects.

• Duration of therapy.

• Lifestyle modification that would improve and aid the therapy.

At times, there may not be enough time to give all the information listed above, but before you leave a patient, make sure they understand what their drug is for, when and how they should take it, side effects and most importantly, when to stop their medication.

QUESTIONS PATIENTS SHOULD ASK THEIR PHYSICIANS AND PHARMACISTS BEFORE LEAVING WITH THEIR MEDICATIONS.

In cases where you as a patient feel lost on how to take your medication or you do not understand what has been explained to you by the attending physician or pharmacist, you can ask these questions.

• Why am I taking this medication?

• How should I use this medication(s)?

• When should I stop taking this medication(s)?

• What if I feel weak, should I stop?

• What should I avoid while on this medication(s)?

• What if I forget to take my medication(s)?

• Do I really need this medication(s)?

• What benefit would this medication give me?

• What is the best way to take this medicine for quick recovery?

• After taking this drug, should I come back?

• How can I prevent this ailment(s) from reoccurring?

There are lots of questions to ask your health professionals to avoid any complications that may arise and also help you make informed decisions concerning matters of your health.

Always have an open mind and ask whatever troubles you, whenever you are confused on something concerning your health and your medications.