People who are involved in dispensing medications tend to have one major fear. This is the fear that the patients may not use the medications in the right manner. And it is a well-founded fear — for numerous studies have shown that patients do indeed have a tendency not to use medications in the right manner. And when patients fail to use medications in the right manner, many things can go wrong. For instance, the medications may fail to work the way they are supposed to. We are all conversant with the emerging trend where antibiotic resistance is increasing all over the world. It is mostly as a result of patients using lower dosages than they are instructed, or patients ceasing to use the medications when they start feeling better (even before completing their doses). But it can get worse. In the worst cases, the patients may end up overdosing themselves, sometimes with tragic results.
Given all those dangers, then, the question arises as to how we can get patients to use medications in the right manner. And in my view, there are two major things we need to do, in order to get patients to use medications in the right manner:
- Give medication usage instructions clearly: if you go to pharmacies and other places from where medications are dispensed, you will notice that the medication usage instructions are usually given in a hurried manner. We need to depart from this. The instructions for the usage of medications have to be given slowly and clearly. The important instructions may actually need to be repeated severally, for them to sink in. In this regard, we need to learn from the bankers. The bankers tend to give instructions to their clients very slowly and clearly. You will notice this, for instance, after applying for a Premier credit card (when going to pick it up). The bankers will go to great lengths, in telling you how you should use it, how to protect your PIN, how to repay the balances… and so on. Pharmacists need to be similarly patient, when giving medication usage instructions to the patients.
- Educate the patients on the consequences: sometimes, people fail to use medications in the right manner simply because they are unaware of the consequences. If people are educated on the consequences of failing to use medications in the right manner, they are unlikely to misuse the medications. So it is just a question of sensitizing people on the consequences they stand to suffer, if they fail to use medications in the right manner.