patient responsibility

Patient Responsibility: A Pharmacist’s Perspective

Pharmacists are an important link between Patients and their Doctors, this is why we play a vital role in communicating how patients can get the most of their treatments.

As a Pharmacist who has seen a lot in everyday practice both in the hospital and in the community. I have to admit that a lot is being left unsaid as regards patient responsibility.

I believe a patient is a part of the healthcare team and so needs to understand his/her role, after all they are the ones who directly benefit when quality care is provided.

As a patient you might be wondering;

Isn’t it just to show up at the Clinic or Pharmacy with my complaints and get  attended to, which role again?

Frankly it’s not enough to just show up. Patients too have their own responsibilities when it comes to their health and must work together with the health professionals to get the best treatments. Patients need to get more invested and proactive with their healthcare as against being passive partners in the healthcare system.

Medical professionals rely a lot on patient feedback to guide their decision making, for example, with medication history. The Nigerian health system is yet to have a centralized patient record system so doctors and Pharmacists have to rely on the patients to provide this information.

Knowing your Meds

As a patient it’s important you keep tabs on the medicines you take and how you respond to them even if it means having a diary for it. Good enough, tech solutions in the form of mobile apps like ADHERE®️ are now available to help you.

A colleague and I joked recently about how easy it is for individuals to remember players in their football clubs and or the number of songs in their favorite music artist’s album. However, these persons forget the names of the medicines they are taking or took just a week back. This is even more surprising for those on the so-called lifetime meds like drugs for high blood pressure or diabetes.

Just as medical professionals work around the clock to improve the quality of services, patients must have a clear picture of what kind of services to expect.

The pharmacist is sure to pay more attention to medicines and medication use. Which is why pharmacists wonder why patients get diagnosed for chronic diseases like Diabetes, High Blood pressure or Arthritis and don’t know what medicines they were given in the past or what such drugs are supposed to do. As a patient it is your right to ask!

Some Wrong Practices

Some private clinics have this bad practice where patients are given drugs in envelopes without names. For whatever reason that is totally unacceptable as every patient deserves to know whatever medications they are taking.

It gets really annoying when such patients need to get more and the pharmacist is now given the very thankless job of identifying such pills.

Another thorny issue is with written prescriptions. A lot of social media banter has been made about the terrible handwriting of some physicians and how pharmacists seem to always figure out whatever was written.

This is quite worrisome because there is a risk of misreading the prescription. This leads to the patients getting the wrong medication or a wrong dose or for the wrong duration of time.

Truly some of the letters in a prescription are not in English but every single letter/number of each word should be clear even for you the patient to see. That way you can be sure that the pharmacist easily understands what’s written without having to speculate.

This might sound extreme but whenever you get such prescriptions where you can barely make out the letters/words kindly ask your physician to rewrite it. It’s your health that is at stake and you should look out for yourself as much as possible.

Be intentional about your health, a lot depends on it

Oluwatomi Olusanya (B.Pharm UPH)