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Keeping Track of Patients' Medication

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Keeping Track of Patients' Medication

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When new patients come in or returning patients come back after a long interval, I always ask what medications they are taking. Very few (and this is not exclusive to elderly patients) provide an accurate list. Some will put none rather than risk misspelling the drug. Some will put blood pressure pill, an antibiotic, a cholesterol pill, or the like. But worse, some will write a red pill, a triangular pill, or (my favorite) a white cream in a tube. Some will pull out a bag of prescription bottles, but when asked, they admit they don’t carry the bag with them at all times.   A few present a paper from their purse or wallet with a list of medications. It may or may not have a name on it (important if they hand it to someone in the office or ER and it can be left on a counter) and it may or may not be up-to-date.   In response, I devised a form, printed on business card stock. I instruct patients to fill it out as soon as they get home, fold it, and put it in their wallet. I let them know I will ask to see it at their next visit, copy the medications into their chart, and return the card to them. I make a note in the chart to remind me to ask for the card. Nearly everyone asks, “Why hasn’t anyone done this for me before?”   If time passes and a patient shows me a worn card or a card with multiple updates, I congratulate him/her for using it and offer a new card.