It's the holiday season, a time when families gather to celebrate their blessings and to share meaningful moments together. Probably the last thing anyone wants to talk about (or listen to) is a rundown of someone's health issues. Well, as uncomfortable as it might be, American Recall Center has asked me to encourage everyone to take a few moments to discuss medications with their loved ones this holiday season.
Have you ever found yourself answering questions for a patient who is in no condition to answer for him/herself? If so, you know where we're coming from. The reason someone may not be able to answer for themselves could range from confusion as a result of a concussion to being suddenly incapacitated following a stroke. It is important that someone close to the individual knows exactly what medications the patient is taking, how much, and how often in order to get the person help without delay! And that includes any non-prescription pain killers and allergy medicines also! Drug interaction is a very real problem and so are drug allergies and hypersensitivity.
Here are a few questions to get the discussion started:
Once the conversation is under way it might be a good time to ask for the name and phone numbers of any doctors who prescribe or recommend these medicines. Many people have more than one doctor (general practitioner, specialist, etc.) and each has some aspect of the patient's health under his or her consideration. Sometimes one or more of them must be consulted by the hospital staff before adding to or changing a patient's regimen.
Another question that everyone who takes medicines needs to be asked:
Have you checked lately to see if there have been any recalls on the drugs you are taking or have in your medicine cabinet? (You can do this at the American Recall Center website.)
You might think that this discussion is unnecessary because so much of our medical information is computerized and the hospital automatically has access to all the data they need.
A couple of years ago I found myself in the ER of a hospital that is affiliated with my doctor and his partners. Only some of my medical history was up-to-date. In fact, they lectured me about the importance of having routine cancer screenings done when those tests had been completed at the lab of that very hospital within the last couple of months!
Earlier this autumn I began experiencing health issues so I made an appointment with my general practitioner. As I sat in the examination room he looked over my computerized file and casually mentioned a certain medication that had been prescribed to me during that ER visit two years earlier. My record showed that I was taking it daily when it had actually been prescribed on a "take as needed" basis and had never even been filled!
I am a newbie to the whole "take daily" prescription routine and it has been a trial and error exercise to find what works so I keep my husband informed which medicines I take whenever they are changed. Since there are a couple of prescriptions that I have filled in recent months it would be improbable for him to know that I only take one of them or at the very least to know which one of them! The rest are kept ready in case the doctor decides I need to add one back into the daily regimen.
So do yourself and everyone else a favor. This holiday season take a few moments away from the festivities to have an open discussion about medications with your loved ones. It only takes a few minutes but it could be the difference between triumph and tragedy in a medical emergency. It might even help your family enjoy many more happy holidays together!