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Do you know the name of your medication?

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Dear reader

I feel compelled to bring back an article I wrote early last year. The article was titled: “Do you know the name of your medication?” I still see so many patients who do not know the names of the pills they are taking. My colleagues agree that this is also rampant in their practices.{{more}}

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a true story. For the lady in question I will use a fictitious name and I will call her Thelma and we will call her friend Barbara.

Thelma just came from her doctor and went to a pharmacy down the road to fill her prescription. When she got there she met Barbara and they started talking. The pharmacist proceeded to fill out their prescriptions.

Unfortunately, although the prescriptions were for different ailments, the tablets looked identical. When the pharmacist gave Thelma her medication she left it on the counter. Barbara got hers, too, and because they were talking, Barbara also left hers on the counter. When they finished talking and had to say goodbye, Thelma picked up her medication and went home. Little did she realize that she had picked up the wrong set of tablets because they looked exactly the same. So did Barbara.

Now, three days later Thelma was admitted to the hospital with severe chronic ailments that were nearly fatal and Barbara on the other hand had diarrhea for two weeks non-stop.

To make it worse because she did not bring her medication to the clinic, her doctor prescribed new medication for her diarrhea and asked that she continue using her old medication to treat her other ailment. Her doctor could not pinpoint what she was doing wrong. It required some intensive investigation to finally figure out what had happened.

Now what went wrong here? The first thing that went wrong was a lack of education. Every person has the responsibility to know the names of the pills they are popping into their mouths or the eye drops they are instilling in their eyes.

Just as you always want to know what food you are eating, so should you also know what medication you are taking. You are responsible for your disease. Therefore, it is your responsibility to learn the name of your medication. It is also your responsibility to bring your medication to show your doctor. On many occasions when I ask a patient what they are using, I usually get this reply. “Well, I don’t know doc. I take 2 green pills, 1 yellow pill, and 1 blue pill and I forgot them at home.” Sounds familiar?

Luckily Thelma survived. There are many patients, however, who due to ignorance have suffered or even died from a lack of knowledge of their medication

Know the name of your medication, know what it does, know if it’s not reacting well with you, know if it’s giving you a problem in combination with other things. Always bring your medication and let your doctor know. Remember your health is your responsibility. You do not want to end up like Thelma or Barbara.

Please pass on this information and you will be doing yourselves and us doctors a great service.

Next week we will discuss the consequences of waiting too long for a follow up examination.

Have a great weekend.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]

Tel: 784 456-1210

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