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

nks a patient is taking and what a patient actually takes is a new focus for improving the safety and quality of health care. One third of the nation's 1.5 million adverse drug events occur in out-patient settings, resulting in a cost of $1 billion annually. Persell thinks this "knowledge of medication gap" may be one of the causes.

The goal is "medication reconciliation," a term in the healthcare field that means patients and their healthcare providers understand and agree on the medications the patients are using and should be using.

Persell's study also showed patients with low health literacy were prescribed more antihypertensive medications than other patients and had higher blood pressure by about five points.

We think doctors may be prescribing more medications because the patients arent giving them the right information about what they are taking, he said.

Even examining patients medical records wont necessarily tell a doctor what pills a patient is swallowing. Persell said some patients continue to fill old prescriptions even if a doctor has changed the dosages or the medication.

Ive seen patients who continued on drugs that I told them to discontinue and stop taking drugs I never told them to stop using," Persell said.

The solution is to ask patients to bring all their current medicine bottles to doctor appointments, so the physician can compare them to what has actually been prescribed in the medical charts, Persell noted. That's how he learned a patient he had switched to a cheaper version of a drug continued to take the older expensive one along with the new one, so he was double dosing himself.

"This could have caused a dangerous drop in his heart rate and blood pressure," Persell said.

The Northwestern study indicates a need for future research to address how patients inability to name their medications -- particularly those with limited health literacy -- imp
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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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