Meds – Be Smart

I’ll admit (again) that pre-RA, I was stupid about prescriptions.  I was rarely sick, and on those few occassions that I got sick enough to see my doctor, he usually wrote me a prescription.  I’d do my best to remember the details of what the medicine was for and when to take it – but if I felt well enough to think clearly, I wouldn’t have been in the doctor’s office.  What it boiled down to was, “Take these pills and you should feel better in a few weeks.” 

If my doc prescribed more than one medicine, regardless of how well he explained each one, all I heard was, “Take this piece of paper to your pharmacy.  The parmacist will sell you some bottles of pills.  If you read the labels carefully, you will find out how often to take the stuff.”

I never could keep straight which one was an antibiotic, which was a muscle relaxer, and why I needed pain medication.  I am happy to report that those days are gone.  My former approach was pretty stupid, but if my friends and acquaintances are representative of the average population, it’s not uncommon.

 All sorts of things could have gone wrong:

  • The doctor might verbally give different instructions than he writes
  • The pharmacist might mis-read the doctor’s handwriting
  • The pharmacist might grab the wrong bottle when filling the prescription
  • The doctor might tell you one med, but change his mind and write down a different one
  • The doctor might say one dose, but write a different one

If you write down what the doctor tells you, you have a better chance of taking the right medicine the right way.  When my doctor told me all about the medicine he was prescribing, then gave me samples for a different drug and wrote the script to match the sample instead of the one we’d discussed, I was able to ask for clarification because I’d been paying attention.  In the past I probably wouldn’t even have noticed.

I now take very careful notes.  I double-check that the written prescription matches the doctor’s verbal instructions.  When I get to my car, I photograph every piece of paper that the doctor handed me, and when I get home all those pix get printed on the back of my appointment notes.  Some might say that I’ve gone overboard.  Maybe.  But I survived one medication error, and don’t intend for there to be a next time.

Read WebMD’s Do’s And Don’ts of Drug Safety.  You don’t have to be as paranoid as I am to be smart about your prescriptions – but a little caution is a good idea.