When most people see their doctor with a problem, they expect the solution to be in tablet or medication form. You trust your doctor to prescribe medications in your best interest and they will usually give you a quick rundown on what the medication is and when to see them next.
You then go to your pharmacy to get it dispensed and hopefully the pharmacist will pick up on it being a new medication, so you should, at the least, get a CMI (Consumer Medicines Information) leaflet. The pharmacist may take you aside and counsel you on the new medication (when and if they get a free minute), making sure it is not going to be a problem with your other medical conditions or medications.
CMIs are written by drug companies, so essentially it’s like a legal document for them. They need to put EVERYTHING in it to cover their butts, so often there is a lot of information and that can be overwhelming for the patient. It also doesn’t list all the possible uses for the medication, which can be confusing for the patient if some of the advice doesn’t apply to the condition for which they are being treated. Although CMIs can sometimes be useful, they are not ideal. Unfortunately, they are often all we have.
So yes, it’s great if the pharmacist has picked up that it’s a new medication and taken some time to counsel the patient. Some people will take the CMI home and read it thoroughly and store it away for a rainy day, others will throw it straight in the bin. Either way, whether they get some education or not, it is a lot of information to digest and most people will have forgotten it the next day.
All too frequently, when questions arise later on about their medication, a lot of people will turn to Dr Google – and that is the worst thing you can do. Apart from there being a lot of misleading, inaccurate and irrelevant information on the web, people will often read into things and think the worst.
I believe everyone (who is mentally capable) should know at least the basics about their medical conditions, know what medications they are on, what they are for and why they are important. Understanding all of this often empowers them to take control of their health and take responsibility for their conditions. It can also help improve their care, as this important information goes with the patient into every appointment or consultation with other health professionals who can then make informed decisions based on this information.
I wanted to create a program that could print out and email personalised CMIs so the information you are handing out to your patients is more relevant, helpful, reader friendly and can be accessed electronically at a later date (when they may be tempted to visit Dr Google).
We decided to start with a book containing profiles on the top 100 most commonly prescribed drugs, information on common disease states, and other useful medicines information. The book is intended to educate people about medications, whether it’s them, a loved one, a patient or a resident taking the medication.