Do you feel like your entire day is scheduled around taking all of your medications? Do you feel like taking all of the medications prescribed to you has somehow made you feel worse than when you started? You may be experiencing polypharmacy! No, it is not a newly discovered disease in which you could get prescribed yet another medication; Polypharmacy is the unwanted duplication of medications that may result from patients going to multiple physicians or pharmacies and may produce unwanted adverse events.
The solution…. Medication Therapy Management! The missing piece to the healthcare puzzle is education and counseling of patients, which is just as important as prescribing and dispensing the medication itself. Anyone taking more than one medication can benefit from a clinical pharmacist intervention process that provides the following:
- Prevention of drug overlap/duplication
- Monitoring of drug-disease, drug-drug interactions
- Detailed, confidential patient history intake (including patient allergies, symptoms of concern, and other relevant issues concerning patient care)
- Patient education and disease state monitoring (i.e. diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure)
- Verbal and written communication to increase the appropriate use and patient understanding of his or her medication regimen
- Medication schedules (detailed instructions on how to use each medication the patient is taking)
- Patient-specific recommendations for selecting appropriate over-the-counter medications and/or nutraceutical supplements
- Communicating with other health care professionals concerning the healthcare of the patient (i.e. physicians, nurses, dietitians, etc…)
Some patients may be on medications they no longer need due to changes in their health, changes in their medical condition or because of potential drug interactions. Health risks that may be linked to concurrent use of various medications, in addition to the increased cost of medications demand that patients have necessary and effective drug therapy management at a reasonable cost with minimum risk and maximum benefit. Education is the key to improving individual healthcare outcomes, as well as reducing costs to the overall healthcare system.
The pharmacist’s answer to the ever-growing frenzy is pharmaceutical care, a concept set forth by various pharmacists and pharmaceutical organizations. The American Pharmacists Association Principles states, “Pharmaceutical Care is a patient-centered, outcomes-oriented pharmacy practice that requires the pharmacist to work in concert with the patient and the patient’s other health care providers to promote health, to prevent disease, and to assess, monitor, initiate, and modify medication use. The goal of Pharmaceutical Care is to optimize the patient’s health-related quality of life, and achieve positive clinical outcomes, within realistic economic expenditures.” Like many other pharmacists, I strive to live up to this standard of practice on a daily basis. The best way to do this is to make sure the correct drug gets to the correct patient with the correct information and for the right reason.
If this sounds like you or something that you may be experiencing, the best advice overall is to try to narrow down your consultations to as few physicians and pharmacists as possible. As you see more doctors and do business with more than one pharmacist, your chances for developing polypharmacy increase tremendously. If you are currently having difficulty managing medications, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Asha at (919) 529-3355 or use our convenient online request an appointment form.