Friday, January 16, 2015

Just the Right Dose - Helping people understand their prescription drugs

Prescription drugs are an important part of life for millions of people. Some drugs are literally lifesaving, while others make life more comfortable. But these medications have become so commonplace and easily available that they might not be taken as seriously as they should be. And that is very dangerous.

When I began working as a nurse, I was often surprised at how little some of my patients knew about their prescription drugs. When taking a nursing history (an intake interview of sorts), we would ask about what drugs the patients took at home, how they took them, and so on. So many patients would say something like, "oh, I take that little white pill for my diabetes - well, just a half of one really because I don't need to take the full one all the time." Other patients would bring in their medicine bottles, but with several prescriptions in one bottle, all mixed up. Sometimes, I would be handed bottles of expired drugs. I was even told a few times to "look at my records," when I asked about prescriptions.

It wasn't unusual for some of my patients to be there because they had not taken their drugs properly. Often, it was that they didn't take their medications as frequently as they should have, but others took too many pills or didn't follow the instructions. Some combined medicines that shouldn't have been combined, others took pills on an empty stomach rather than with food, causing damage. The stories were endless.

Why did so many people not know anything about their pills? Some of it goes back to "doctor knows best," and not feeling they needed to question their prescriptions. And I believe that part of it goes back to just not realizing how important this information and knowledge is.

Last month, I wrote a blog post about prescription drug use in North America and the errors that occur because patients don't understand their medicines properly (Over 200 Billion Dollars For Prescription Meds in U.S. Alone). I found that information as I was doing research for my new book, Just the Right Dose: Your Smart Guide to Prescription Drugs & How to Take Them Safely.

The book, now available at Amazon and Kobo, covers topics such as how to read a prescription (What do those abbreviations really mean?), how to take or give medicines - including tips for people who have trouble swallowing pills, why certain pills should never be broken or crushed, why over-the-counter drugs should be used as carefully as prescription drugs, and more.

Who should read this book? Anyone who takes prescription drugs and anyone who gives them to someone else - such as a parent who has to give medicines to a child, or a family caregiver, looking after a parent or sibling.

To learn more about the book please visit You can also go directly to Amazon or Kobo to purchase it.