Are You Taking Your Medications Correctly?


I used to work as a pharmacist for a large retail chain drug store. One day, after ringing up a patient at the cash register, I told the patient, “Let me go over this medication with you real quick.” The patient replied “No, that’s fine, I just took the same antibiotic and it didn’t work, so I have to continue taking it.” So I asked him, “You weren’t taking it with any multivitamins, were you?” The patient replied, “Yea, I take it in the morning with all of my vitamins”. I explained, “That’s the reason why this antibiotic didn’t work”. He looked at me, paused, and stated “That information would have saved me over a hundred dollars”.

My previous article stressed the importance of asking questions about your health and the medications you are taking. It is very important to get clarification of your medication instructions at the pharmacy. Even if you have taken a medication in the past, you could have been taking your medication incorrectly because you never received a consultation or read any of the material that came with your prescription.

So you’re thinking, I’ve been taking my medication for a long time. I’m sure you do not receive updates on any new warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about your medication. And sure, you may hear about the warnings on the news, but what if you missed the warning announcement on the news that week because you were busy living life? Pharmacists who work in large retail drug store chains are usually too busy to run after you to make sure you know how to take your medications correctly. So I can only remind you to ask, ask, ask.

Don’t be a decliner of consultations. The patient I took care of at the register was never counseled about his medication and he declined my request to go over the medication again. What if I wasn’t working at the register? Since I work in California, a pharmacy clerk or technician would have stated “ The pharmacist will be right with you.” And if the patient said “No, I’ve taken this before”, the clerk or technician would have had him sign to verify that he declined to be counseled and the patient would have gone home to take his medication as incorrectly as he did the previous week.

Allow us, the drug experts, to assist you by telling you the appropriate way to take your medications. It may save you time and money. And I’m sure you have better use for your time and money.

Just ask your pharmacist what main points you need to know about your medications. Then go home and read the material that goes along with the medication.

Will the patient I rang up at the pharmacy decline another consultation request? Possibly. But judging by the look on his face when I explained to him that he could have saved time and money, he may not be declining a consult anymore.

~Dr. Dee

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