Does it feel like every time you go to the doctor you hear the same questions? The doctor, the nurse, the medical assistant, and even the input forms ask for it: What medications are you taking?
Do you wonder why they don’t know this by now? Shouldn’t it be in your records and easily accessible, so why do you have to give this information to them each time you have an appointment.
There are some specific and important reasons you’re asked this question so often. Yet, it’s the number one question not filled out on patient intake forms. Providing an accurate list of your medications, their dosages, when you take them and why they were prescribed for you can make a huge difference in the treatment you receive.
More Than One Doctor Can Prescribe Medications
Your dermatologist prescribed medication for acne, your dentist prescribed an antibiotic for an infection and your family doctor gave you a cream for that rash. While each medical office keeps a high level of organization and accurate records, generally there is no natural communication between different specialists. Different offices can’t share records without consent and request forms signed by you. Medications can be contraindicated so it is important for all your medical professionals to have an updated record of all medications you are currently taking.
Have Your Prescriptions Changed?
While the information in our records may have been accurate at your last visit, have there been any changes? Did you change dosages or stop taking a certain medication? By confirming current medications, records can be kept up-to-date. When medical records are current, your medical professionals can make the most informed decision about your treatment, providing you the best possible care.
Some Medications Have Multiple Names and Some Have Similar Names
Most medications have at least one brand name and generic name. Some even have multiple brand names and generic names. While brand and generic medications are essentially the same formula, there can be small and significant differences. The non-active ingredients such as the coatings, stabilizers, fillers, binders, and flavorings are often not the same. These little changes between the brand and generic medications can interact with other medications. Knowing exactly what medications you are taking can help identify an allergic reaction or sensitivity.
There are also many medications with similar names. Take Celebrex®, Cerebyx® and Celexa® – one is an NSAID, one is an anti-epileptic, and one is an antidepressant. If you are trying to recall from memory which medication you take, you or your doctor may confuse similar sounding medications. In this case, the incorrect information has the potential to cause serious harm.
Medications Can Have Interactions
Many medications are contraindicated. It is important for your doctor to rule out potential negative interactions between medications. When you have an accurate list of the medications you are currently taking, you help ensure that you don’t take medications that poorly react to each other. It also makes it easier to recognize when a complaint may be the result of a negative drug interaction rather than a new medical concern. Even if it’s not an interaction, it may be a side effect and the best way to get comprehensive medical treatment is to have a complete medication list.
Vitamins and Supplements Should Also Be Included in Medication Lists
If you take over-the-counter medications, supplements, or vitamins that aren’t prescribed, we only know about those when you inform us. While most over-the-counter meds, supplements, and vitamins will not react with your prescription medications, some may and can even create other complications. Making sure to include over-the-counter medications, supplements, or vitamins in your medication list will help give the clearest medical picture, which will result in the most comprehensive care.
Medications May Cause Or Disguise Symptoms/Conditions
Some medications or supplements can cause symptoms or conditions while others can disguise them. It is important for your medical professionals to know all the medications you are taking in order to diagnose and treat effectively.
You can keep a list on paper or even on your phone. The list doesn’t have to be complicated but it is important it is complete. Simply list the name, dosages, times and days when you take the medication, and update the list when something changes. That way you can fill out input forms with confidence and know your medical records are complete.
Whatever your skin concerns, it’s time to take action. Call our office today to schedule your appointment. And don’t forget to bring your list of medications when you come in!