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Why is medication compliance important?

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What makes people comply with Dr.’s orders? Prescription medication compliance can mean the difference between full recovery and reoccurring illness.

How many times have you been prescribed antibiotics (for example) and have not completed the full course of treatment? When you start feeling better it’s easy to skip a dose or disregard the remaining medications. After all, the illness has cleared up and you’re feelingicesbetter so why continue to take the medication? We’ve all done it at one point or another.

Complying with the prescribed medication program can help ensure greater success of treatment. You may think that your body has recovered and can manage without completing the prescribed course of medication but sometimes that missed dose or the extra days that you disregarded can make all the difference.

So, what’s the key to prescription medication compliance? Well, it’s not that complicated actually and it’s linked to the length of your prescription.

The longer the length of your prescription, the more chance you have of sticking to the advised program. It appears to be that simple.

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology last year proved this theory. The study focused on senior heart patients and was conducted at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Women’s College Hospital (WCH). Patients who were prescribed medication for 60 days adhered to the medication program far more than those who were prescribed 30 days or less.

As part of the study 20,000 senior heart patients with coronary heart disease were monitored to find out their level of prescribed medication adherence and commitment to follow up health checks. 50% od the prescriptions were for 7 days and most patients left the hospital with prescriptions for less than 30 days.

There is a tendency to give patients shorter term prescriptions when they leave hospital.  It’s thought that short prescriptions encourage patients to come back for their follow up appointments and aids medication compliance. This study however, showed no correlation between shorter prescription programs and adherence to follow-up appointments.

“The majority of patients in our study left hospital with a prescription for cardiac medications for 30 days or less,” said Dr. Dr. Noah Ivers, the study’s lead author and a family doctor at WCH. “This may be a result of the common clinical perception that short prescriptions encourage patients to go to their follow-up appointments, yet our study found regardless of the duration of the prescription, nearly all patients did, in fact, attend their follow-up appointment.”

Forcing patients to check in with Dr too regularly to renew prescriptions can do the opposite and it can force a compliance issue for many. It can hinder the recovery process and exasperate the patient instead. This is especially true when considering the health of older patients. Not only are they recovering from or managing an illness, they may also have mobility and transportation issues to contend with. This does the opposite and forces a compliance issue for many.

We’re not saying that doctors should prescribe indefinite prescriptions but clinical trials, like the one mentioned above, prove that longer prescriptions leads to better compliance and recovery.

What do you think?


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