Proper instructions important for getting good results from medications

By • Published: March 28th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Going to the see the doctor is an important step in treating what ails you. But even after getting recommendations for powerful prescriptions, many people get no relief. For some the reason is clear — they don’t even get their prescriptions filled! Cost of therapy, fear of side effects and interference with daily activities can deter the use of prescriptions.

But even patients who pick up their medicines might not reap expected rewards. Researchers chalk it up to the difference between compliance and adherence. Whereas patients might comply with using a medication, they might not adhere to specified instructions on how to use the product. Lack of clear, written instructions can be an important factor, since patients sometimes misunderstand verbal directives.

In the case of a skin condition known as psoriasis, for example, research shows that up to 70 percent of patients do not properly administer topical medicines that are the first line of defense. Researchers say part of the problem is that prescriptions often don’t give patients adequate information. A study in the British Journal of Dermatologists indicates that many prescriptions do not fully explain how, where, how much, how often and how long most medications should be used.

For patients, it’s doubly frustrating when a doctor’s instructions say, “Use as directed” and the medication’s packaging advises to follow a doctor’s instructions.

Nowadays, electronic prescriptions are often sent directly from physicians’ offices to pharmacies with the click of a button. That will go a long way toward ensuring high-quality prescription-writing and better results for patients. Still, no matter how comprehensively or how accurately your prescription information is written, you still won’t get the benefit — unless you actually read it.