By Linda Ziac
The Caregiver Resource Center
June 6, 2017
DID YOU KNOW?
• 60% of Americans take prescription drugs
• 4.3 Billion prescriptions were dispensed in the U.S. in 2015
Source: Generic Pharmaceutical Association – Generic Drug Savings in US 2015
• 300 Million pain prescriptions were written in 2015 alone
• 15,000+ people in the U.S. died from overdoses involving prescription opioids in 2015
Source: CDC National Center for Health Statistics; 2016.
MEDICATION COMPLIANCE (ADHERENCE)
When a doctor writes a prescription for a medication to be filled by the pharmacist, there are specific instructions on how to take that particular medication. Medication compliance means that the patient is taking the medication according to the prescribed dosage, to be taken on an empty or full stomach, as well as the frequency and times to be taken.
Failure to follow even one of these instructions, may lead to reduced potency, side effects and even death; and is known as medication non-compliance (non-adherence).
MEDICATION NON-COMPLIANCE (NON-ADHERENCE)
Medication non-compliance covers a wide range of behaviors.
• Failing to fill the initial prescription
• Not refilling a prescription as directed
• Neglecting to take a dose or doses
• Taking more of the medication than prescribed
• Discontinuing the medication before the whole prescription has been used
• Taking a dose at the wrong time
• Taking a medication prescribed for someone else
• Failing to follow instructions – e.g. taking a dose with prohibited foods, liquids, and other medications
• Taking medication past the expiration date
• Knowingly taking damaged medications
• Not storing medications properly
• Abusing the use of medication administration devices (e.g. inhalers).
THE IMPACT OF MEDICATION NON- COMPLIANCE (NON- ADHERENCE)
“Drugs do not work in patients who do not take them.” - Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
• 125,000 people die each year in the US due to medication non-compliance, and costs the health care system nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
• 75% of Americans report they don’t always take medications properly
• 50% of Americans with chronic illnesses and are most vulnerable to non-compliance
• 40% of Nursing Home Admissions are due to medication non-compliance
• 33% of prescriptions that are written are never filled
WHY MEDICATION ISN’T TAKEN AS PRESCRIBED
There are many reasons why people don’t fill a prescription, or they have the medication but don’t take it as prescribed.
Some of the reasons may include:
• The rising cost of prescription medication
• Failure to read the instructions on the prescription bottle
• Lack of understanding regarding the need for the medicine, how long it takes to see results, or if it will even help
• Fear of potential side effects
• Memory issues, or merely forgetting
• Unable to to get to the pharmacy, to pick up the medication
• Inability to open the prescription bottle
• Fear of becoming dependent on the medicine
• Intentional increased dosages of certain medications, in order to experience the desired effect
WHEN YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES A NEW MEDICATION
Before you agree to take any new medication, it’s important that you know a number of things about that medication.
Ask your doctor:
• What’s wrong with me?
• What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do for me?
• How often should I take the medication, and at what time of day?
• Do I take the medication with food or on an empty stomach?
• When will the medicine begin to work?
• Are there any precautions I should take – foods, drugs, or activities that I need to avoid while taking this medicine?
• What are the potential side effects of the medication?
• What if I miss a dosage, what should I do?
• Does the doctor have any samples of the medication to give me?
• Is there a generic form of this medication?
• What does the medication look like (color, shape, markings)?
• Is there a potential for an interaction of my current medications and this new medication?
• Is there an alternative treatment other than taking this medication?
MAKE SURE YOUR DOCTOR HAS ALL THE FACTS
Provide your doctor with a list of all of your current medication names, dosages, and time to be taken; including over the counter medication, vitamins and herbal supplements.
• Alert your doctor to any allergic reactions you may have to medications, foods or substances
• Report any adverse reactions or side effects that you have had with previous medications
• Let your doctor know if you are or think that you may be pregnant, or if you are breast feeding
• Tell your doctor if you are on a special diet such as low-carb, low-sodium or low-sugar
• If you are unlikely to take the medication because of memory issues, or an inability to afford the medication, let your doctor know
BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE PHARMACY
As the saying goes “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Mistakes do happen.
It’s important to be aware of a medication’s color, shape, and pill markings, before filling a prescription.
Before you leave the pharmacy be sure to open your medication, and check to verify that the pills are correct.
DRUG REACTIONS MAY PRODUCE SIDE EFFECTS
Here are some possible drug reactions to prescription medications that can be experienced, especially in seniors.
• Weight changes
SOME GENERAL MEDICATION GUIDELINES
The following are some general guidelines for overseeing your medication usage broken down into Do’s and Don’ts.
Remember - if you are experiencing any side effects of your medication, or if have any questions about your medication - speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
• It’s important to store medications in a cool, dry, dark place, away from children.
• Only take medication that has been prescribed for you.
• Follow the prescription instructions exactly – including dosage and schedule.
• Tell the doctor about any other drugs (including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements) that you are taking.
• Ask the doctor about possible side effects, about drug or food interactions, and whether the medication should be taken with food. or on an empty stomach.
• Buy all medication from the same pharmacy or drug store; this way, possible drug interactions with previously prescribed drugs can be considered.
• Follow the full course of drug treatment; do not stop giving the medication until the treatment is over.
• Keep an eye out for side effects - including sleeplessness or sleepiness, depression, confusion, irritability, headaches, or nausea.
• Use a pill reminder box and/or a daily medicine chart to keep track of multiple medications, dosages and schedules.
• Check with your doctor periodically to see if the medication can be stopped or dosage reduced.
• Don’t share your medications with other people.
• Don’t take medication out of the original prescription and carry it in a different container.
• Don’t change the form of a medication (crushing a pill or mixing one with water) unless you ask your doctor or pharmacist. Changing the form of a medication can change how it works or its effectiveness.
• Don’t stop taking a medication, even if you begin to feel better; finish the entire course of treatment as prescribed by doctor.
• Don’t assume that you are taking medications properly; be sure to discuss your medications, dosages, schedules and side effects your doctor or pharmacist on a regular basis
• Don’t try to second guess a doctor about the medications you need; always discuss any problems or questions directly with your doctor.
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR MEDICATION
If you have questions about your medication, don’t wait, call your doctor or pharmacy.
NEED HELP WITH A DRUG OR ALCOHOL PROBLEM
Do you think that you may have a problem with misusing or abusing prescription medication, over the counter medication, or illegal substances?
Remember that help is only a phone call away!
CT SUBSTANCE ABUSE WALK-IN ASSESSMENT CENTERS
CT Renaissance Outpatient
One Lafayette Circle
RNP/Kinsella Treatment Ctr.
1862 Commerce Drive
CT Renaissance Outpatient
Four Byington Place
CT Renaissance Outpatient
141 Franklin Street
Recovery Network of Programs/
Center for Human Services
2 Research Drive
For a complete listing visit - http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?a=2902&q=577738
CT DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION SERVICES
410 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
SAMHSA's NATIONAL HELPLINE
VETERAN’S CRISIS LINE
Photo from The Printshop
The information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Please consult your health care provider for an appointment, before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
Linda Ziac is the owner and founder of The Caregiver Resource Center. The Caregiver Resource Center is a division of Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. which Linda founded in October 1990. The Caregiver Resource Center provides a spectrum of concierge case management and advocacy services for seniors, people with special needs and families.
Linda’s professional career spans more than 40 years in the health and mental health field as a CT Licensed Professional Counselor, CT Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Board Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Board Certified Case Manager, and Board Certified Dementia Practitioner. In addition, Ms. Ziac has 15 years of experience coordinating care for her own parents.
Linda assists seniors, people with special needs and their families; in planning for and implementing ways to allow for the greatest degree of health, safety, independence, and quality of life. Linda meets with individuals and family members to assess their needs, and develop a Care Team, while working with members of the Team to formulate a comprehensive Care Plan (a road map). Once a plan is in place, Linda is available to serve as the point person to monitor and coordinate services, and revise the plan as needed. This role is similar to the conductor of an orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the desired goal.