Passing over doctor’s prescription: Are you choosing illness over wellness?

Do you remember to take your medicines as prescribed by your physician? Do you always take your medicine the correct number of times and in the right dosage? Are you diligently following the restricted diet as prescribed by your doctor? If the answer to any of the questions is no, then you are among the 50% of the patients who do not take medications correctly and suffer higher healthcare costs in the long run.

One can observe a common trend in patients with initial symptoms of the illness. Initially, he or she tries to stick to the physician’s prescription and diet, hoping to get an instantaneous relief from the symptoms of illness. Despite taking the medicines, when the patient does not get immediate relief, his faith in the doctor and the medication begins shaking, and with no second thoughts, he starts skipping the prescription. The patient’s bias against the medication turns firm when he notices that skipping the medicine once or twice has not worsened his condition immediately. The patient becomes further assured that the suggested medication was not the right one and leaves it altogether–even without consulting with his doctor. Sometimes, the causes of quitting the medication also rest on the patient’s fear of the medicine’s side- effects.

We don’t realize that when we seek a doctor for relief from certain symptoms, the doctor gives us medicine not just to relieve us of our discomfort. He also gives medicines as per the diagnosis arrived at that point in time. Sometimes, the correct diagnosis takes longer, and our impatience makes us give up the medication! We don’t realize that it is a combination of medicines that works the best on a problem. And it may take the doctor some time to arrive at the right combination. More chronic situation like a cardiac problem, where the ailment has been correctly diagnosed and the line of treatment is on the right path, patients should continue to stick to the medication. Not only because it is the medicine that keeps the condition from getting worse. The medicine also tries to curb the damage to the organ and saves your life.

Do you know how can you avoid from slipping into the psychology of faltering on your medications? Follow these basic rules:

1. We all understand that doctors are busy professionals, and mostly do not have time to explain the medication to the patient. Don’t be cowed down by the poker face of your doctor. Ask him questions. Take more interest in finding out what the medication is supposed to do and exactly how should you take it. What will happen if you miss your dose? How often the medication has to be refilled? If you are interested in your wellness, then why not take interest in learning about your medication!

2. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects and the risks of taking and NOT taking the medication. You may feel motivated to stick to the medication if you understand that the side effects do not outweigh the benefits of taking the medication.

3. If you keep forgetting to take your medicines on time, then devise techniques that would enable you to stick to your medication. Eg. Ask your 2-3 loved ones to give you a reminder through phone, set phone reminder, set up a routine.

4. Look for reasons to NOT to cancel your next appointment, and keep all appointments. The more you will see of your doctor, and talk to his team, the more you are likely to be inspired to stick to the medication. Allay your doubts and find out whether the medication is working or not. DON’T decode for yourself how good or bad the medication is. You let the doctor decide the medicines for you. Now let him only decide if the medicines prescribed by him are working or not.

5. Ask your doctor for less expensive alternatives of the medicines prescribed.

All your doubts and uncertainty about your medication can be resolved if you remain in constant touch with your doctor. You had decided to let him take charge and decide the medication for you. Let your decision come full circle and allow him an opportunity to decide whether the medication is good or bad, whether it is working to achieve your wellness or not.


How to deal with the crisis when a loved one is in ICU?

A chill may run down your spine if you hear of a close relative or friend meeting an acute, life-threatening illness or injury, and getting admitted into an Intensive Care Unit. The fear of losing the loved one may grip you, but the sooner you put your head in place, the better you would be able to handle the crisis. And it always helps, if you have some an idea what is likely to happen over the next few days or weeks when the loved one is under the hospital’s intensive care.
Ask questions: Ask the doctors about the status and tests that are likely to be carried out or procedures or treatment plan that will be undertaken for your loved one. It’s natural for you to have an overwhelming fear, feel helpless and powerless; but you should know the channels of communication and whom to reach out to for updates or for urgently discussing the patient’s condition.
Know what is happening at the back of ICU: One should not be intimated by the doctors or nurses, their somber face or your lack of knowledge of medicine. What matters is that you should be posing the right questions to the care giver who is in-charge of your loved one’s treatment. That would keep you looped in the in the critical decision making. It’s also important that you should be having a united family speaking in one voice. Physicians are a busy people other than keeping up to their scheduled morning or evening patient visits. It is always better to seek the attending physician in the non-rush hours for better clarity on the patient’s health and the line of treatment likely to be adopted.
Know the day and night team attending to your loved one: The team in the Intensive Care Unit comprises of highly trained professionals. The specialists are not just trained in healing patients; they are also trained in helping the patients in dealing with trauma. You should familiarize yourself with the team in charge of your loved one’s health. Though the ICU staff may vary depending on the size of the hospital, an optimal team would have the following:

• Intensivist or Critical Care Specialist: –This doctor specializes in pulmonary or critical care medicine, and oversees all of your loved one’s care.
• Critical Care Nurse- The registered nurse in an ICU is highly skilled, and is part of the important team involved in the decision-making process of the critical care team. Most of the ICUs have one registered nurse for the day care and one for the night. The nurse is always a first point of contact for the patient or the patient’s family member as she is involved in all medicines, tests and procedures related to the patient.
• Pharmacist or Clinical Pharmocologist: The pharmacist or pharmacologist works with the health care team and is always available to the attending physician and nurses for any queries regarding the safety and effectiveness of medication.
• Respiratory Therapist: Monitors patients on ventilators/ breathing machines.
• Registered Dietician: Monitors the nutritional health of the patient
• Social Worker or Patient Care Coordinator: Are always available for offering individual and family counseling. The Social Worker or Patient Care Coordinator is the one point contact for information on financial or social support like lodging, support groups, employment, disability etc.
• Role of your primary care doctor- The primary care physician has a prominent role in the treatment of your loved one. He is a source of information on any pre-existing medical condition of the patient, any allergies, previous medications that the patient did or did not respond to etc., for the critical care team.
In addition to the team above, there may also be a Fellow, Resident or an Intern working closely with the attending physician. There could also be a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist, depending on the size of the hospital unit.
The hospital or the critical care team may offer the best possible support and treatment to your loved one. It is equally important that you organize yourself first. If you have your head and heart in control, you would be able to lend healing and strength to the patient and to other family members who may be equally disturbed.

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We at DocASAP believe in promoting simplicity and ease in accessing healthcare.  While simplicity is our mantra, we give utmost attention to details while  connecting healthcare users to the right doctor. We are inspired by the same spirit for our blog and have tried to dig out information that is focused on offering education and support to healthcare users and clinical patients.

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