Living Well: Follow those directions — Taking medication as prescribed of critical importance
Have you ever found yourself forgetting to fill a prescription, discontinuing your medication, or perhaps not taking the medication at all? While it can be cumbersome, especially for those taking several daily medications, it’s critical to understand the importance of taking your medications correctly as directed by your physician.
“It’s very important for a patient to take a medication as prescribed,” said Ryan Alberico, PharmD at Memorial Regional Health Community Pharmacy. “Taking too much of a medication can have serious consequences, including hospitalization and death. Skipping or missing a dose of a medication can also potentially lead to these adverse events, which is why it’s important to use devices that promote adherence, such as pill boxes and phone alarms, to prevent this from happening.”
Complications, side effects
Missing a dose of your prescribed medicine can lead to various symptoms and can lower your overall quality of life.
“When a health condition is not adequately treated, hospitalizations occur, and further damage to the body can occur,” Alberico said. “For example, if a patient with diabetes does not adhere to their medications, various complications can occur, including kidney damage, neuropathy, blindness, and heart disease.”
What should you do if you skip or miss a dose of your medication?
“A general rule is that if the patient remembers within a few hours of the next dose, do not double up on the dose, and just take the next scheduled dose,” Alberico said. “If the patient remembers later in the same day that the dose is missed, but not within a few hours of the dose, then it would be fine to take the scheduled dose for the day. These are general rules and should not be a one-size-fits-all philosophy, so patients are highly encouraged to contact their pharmacy or doctor to see if they should skip or double up their next dose.”
The following tips can help ensure medications are taken correctly:
• Take the time to talk with your doctor about the medications you are taking or new ones being prescribed.
• Review the medicine summary sheet provided by your pharmacy, or ask your pharmacist about the medicine you’re taking.
• Stick to a regular schedule, and take your medications at the same time every day.
• Use a pill container. From brightly colored and labeled with the designated days of the week to round and rectangular, there are a big variety of both large and small daily and weekly pill dispensers.
• Refill your pill container at the same time every week to create a regular routine.
• There are caps that fit medicine vials that have a timer, called timer caps. This helps track when your next dosage is due.
“Our friendly staff is always available during hours of operation to address concerns regarding the medications that any patient is taking,” Alberico said.