Local News

For Medicines To Work, Patients Must Follow Instructions

Posted April 23, 2001 3:09 a.m. EDT

— If you have ever received a prescription telling you to take a certain number of pills each day for a certain number of days only to have pills left over, you are not doing yourself any favors.

Medication can be the last thing on your mind when you feel fine, but there is a reason your doctor prescribed it: Medicine cannot help you unless you take it.

The reasons people do not follow their prescription range from being forgetful to misunderstanding the directions.

"People just do not take their medications correctly. They do not take time to listen to the pharmacist, they do not take time to ask the questions and they don't take time to read their own labels," says Al Lockamy, formerNorth Carolina Board of Pharmacypresident.

Lockamy looks for ways to help people take the correct dose of medicine. He says non-compliance is a "very serious problem."

Paige Houston, of Thompson Drug in Dunn, talks with her patients about their new medications and why the drugs are important to their treatment.

"You just have to reassure them that this is what the doctor wants -- heart medications, blood pressure medications -- that this will prevent them from having a heart attack or stroke and how important it is to take it every single day," she says.

Here are some easy ways to follow doctors orders:

  • Get the prescription filled as soon as possible. The longer you put it off, the less likely you will do it.
  • Take the medication at the same time every day as part of your routine.
  • Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist questions about how to take the medications or the side effects.

    "We are a telephone call away. A lot of times when [patients] can't pick up the phone and call the doctor themselves, they can call the pharmacy and almost always get the pharmacist on the line," says Houston.

    There are also a number of gadgets available that will remind you to take your medication:

  • Reminder services send a message over your pager when you are supposed to take pills.
  • Beeping watches can be set to tell you the type of medication to take at a certain time.
  • Smart caps indicate to users how many times a bottle has been opened each day and how many hours since it was opened.

    Health Team Producer:Andrea Moody Photographer:Ken Bodine