How to Educate Patients About Medications | 6 Practical Tips

How to Educate Patients About Medications

Some people find it difficult to take their medications at the appropriate time and dosage, while others do it with ease.

Many patients, particularly those who are elderly, are prone to making serious medication miscalculations.

In fact, according to statistics, roughly 75% of Americans have trouble adhering to their medication as instructed. (1)

Patients are bound to make mistakes, but they can minimize the likelihood of making them with the proper education.

Caregivers should concentrate on the following areas to help patients minimize medication errors and fully comprehend what to do if they have issues or queries regarding their meds.

1. The Importance of Following the Given Instructions

Advise the patient of the significance of taking the medication according to the instructions.

Medical adherence, as defined as taking prescription medications in the correct dosage, at the appropriate time, in the proper manner, and with the required frequency, is important for them to understand.

This aids in the management of any continuing chronic conditions, the effective treatment of short-term illnesses, and the optimization of their overall health and wellness.

2. Educate the Patient about Drug Misuse and the Possible Side Effects

Patient education is critical in ensuring that they understand why they are taking the medication prescribed at that specific dosage rather than any other other medication.

They should be aware that taking any medication in a manner other than that prescribed by the doctor constitutes prescription drug misuse or abuse. It could be something like this:

  • By using medication for a different purpose, such as to get high
  • The use of medications prescribed for another person
  • They are administering the medication differently than they should.
  • They are taking a higher dose than they should be.

Every medication carries a small but significant risk of side effects, some of which are potentially fatal. Misuse of certain prescription medications can result in addiction.

While at it, you should also tell them what to do in case of any possible side effects. The first thing is to discontinue taking the medication and seek an alternative from their doctor.

3. Is The Cost Of The Medication Too High

Some patients choose not to take their medication not because they do not want to but rather because they cannot afford it.

According to Chuck Grassley:

More than 13% of American adults — or about 34 million people — report knowing of at least one friend or family member in the past five years who died after not receiving needed medical treatment because they were unable to pay for it. (2)

Many Americans find taking and refilling their medications regularly to be prohibitively expensive.

What can you do to assist? Patients struggling to afford medications can seek assistance through patient assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.

4. Storage

If the medication does not contain instructions on storing it, provide the patient with the best advice.

They should keep their prescriptions in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight.

It is not advisable to keep tablets and capsules in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other wet areas.

They should not leave their medication in their vehicle for a prolonged time. They should keep all medications out of the reach of children and pets.

5. Encourage the Patients to ask Questions

Do not lay out everything to the patients, expecting them to take it all in.

You have to remember that the terms used by the health profession, the names of the medications, and even the descriptions of their conditions might be difficult for them to understand.

Encourage them to ask questions where they do not get you and about anything else they want to ask.

6. Be Friendly and Sensitive To the Patients’ Needs

In some cases, you might encounter a patient who does not want to deal with anyone else who is not their ethnicity, age, religion, or gender.

Do not push your luck with such a patient; get them to whom they will feel free to talk.

However, you should try to create a safe environment so that they can open up easily and ask anything they want.

If you are friendly and approachable enough, they might not even wish to seek help from anyone else.

Final Thoughts

Medication safety is very important and deserves as much priority as any other health issue. Many patients do not even know why they take the medication prescribed to them.

They do not know what would happen if they abused the drugs or skipped their daily dosage.

A little education goes a long way in making it safe and worthwhile for their health and overall well-being.

See Also

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How Much Do Physician Assistants Make

What is a Resident Doctor

How to Educate Diabetic Patients

CBT Training for Physicians

Current Version
May 25, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 23, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD

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