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Patients can't recall their medications to tell doctors
Date:10/11/2007

CHICAGO --- Doctors rely on patients to accurately tell them what prescription medications and what dosages -- they are taking in out-patient visits. (A patient's chart may not always be available or complete.) That information is essential for physicians to monitor whether a drug is working, and whether it may have adverse interactions with any new medications prescribed.

Depending on patients recall of their drugs, however, may be dangerous to their health.

New research from Northwestern Universitys Feinberg School of Medicine has found that nearly 50 percent of patients taking antihypertensive drugs in three community health centers were unable to accurately name a single one of their medications listed in their medical chart. That number climbed to 65 percent for patients with low health literacy.

It was worse than we expected, said lead author Stephen Persell, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine, and of the Institute for Healthcare Studies at the Feinberg School, and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It means doctors cant ask patients to tell them the medications they are taking for their chronic conditions like hypertension. Its very hard to get at the truth of what medications the patient is actually taking.

The study will be published in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The Northwestern study looked at 119 patients, average age 55, from community health centers in Grand Rapids, Mich. Researchers asked them to name their antihypertensive drugs and then compared their answers to the drugs listed in their medical charts.

While the study focused on low-income patients, Persell said other patients likely have similar trouble recalling the names and dosages of all their medications, particularly those who take a lot of different drugs and the elderly, who may have cognitive limitations.

The gap between what medications a doctor thi
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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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