I’ve discovered a way of doing things that improves patients understanding of their medication, and it is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t always do it before.
Actually, I lie. I was already doing it sometimes, I just hadn’t named what I did, or thought about it.
When I prescribe paracetamol, it has been fairly normal for me to write ‘take two tablets four times a day for pain’. It is the same for most of the PRN medications I prescribe. However, for all routine medications, the directions say how, but not why to take the medication.
I changed that in 2019. When I review medications, I add the indication to the prescription. The whole practice including our attached pharmacist will start using this as the new standard. For Amlodipine, for example, the directions say ‘take one in the morning to lower blood pressure’. How simple it is to do that. We can program the new directions in as short-cuts too. We’ve not been completely reliable, but it is becoming a normal way of working.
Hopefully, this small step has added a smidge more information to patient-centred discussions and decisions about medication. Maybe a bit naive, some people will always take the four white tablets in the morning without question. Some other people will play a random game, like the woman who just put all her medication in a bowl like mint imperials, and took some every day.
Now, patients will have an easy opportunity to recall why they take their medication, as well has what that medication is. More information, better discussions, more patient-centred, realistic decisions.