Improving Drug Compliance of Patients

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One of the major barriers to a complete and speedy recovery is on drug compliance. This is fairly common among patients nowadays. When we say compliance, it means that the patient adheres to take his/her the right medicine at the right time, with the right dosage. Sometimes, patients do not comply with the prescribed dosage and/or required duration to be taken for the drug to take full effect on the patient’s body.

Some of the reasons why patients have a low compliance rate are:

  1. Forgetfulness—probably the most used excuse that patients give when the miss and/or skip a dose.
  2. When the patient or the patient’s family has difficulty understanding and/or misinterprets the instructions that they have been given (i.e, when to take the drug, how many tablets to take, etc.)
  3. Sometimes, the patient may stop taking a certain drug if he/she starts to experience side effects and he/she becomes afraid that her condition may be worsening.
  4. When the patient has a terminal illness, he/she may start to lose hope to continue taking his/her medications, thinking that nothing will do to improve his/her condition.
  5. Sometimes, the symptoms subside and the patient thinks that they are already well and it is okay to stop taking whatever medicine he/she is taking.
  6. Non-compliance also happens when the patient or the patient’s family lacks enough resources needed to buy the prescribed medicine/s.The patient has certain conditions that renders him/her unable to comply with the schedule for taking his/her meds (i.e, Alzheimers Disease, Dementia, Age-Related Conditions etc.)

It is a critical aspect in health care—that patients follow the required dosage, amount, and duration of taking their prescribed medicines because this will ensure that they will have a safe and fast recovery–the success of the treatment, prevention of further complications and also in the promotion of health. Remember, some of the medicines we take can have side effects that might harm us. Consequences to not adhering with the drug treatment include: an increased cost of health care; when patients skip their meds, this leads to an underdosage of the prescribed drug–which eventually ends up to the patient having recurrent illness, even worsening of the current/previous illness or the worst case scenario, death.

Nurses should be keen enough to assess if their patients are complying with their treatment regimen, especially in the hospital setting. Being our patients’ advocate and an an advocate of change are among our duties and responsibilities that’s why we have to influence and teach them ways on improving their compliance on taking their prescribed medicines.

  •  Keep instructions as simple as possible. If there is a written prescription, the better.
  • Improving communication with your patients. Asking the patient for any concerns regarding his/her drug treatments. With this, the patient can verbalize if he/she is having difficulties on taking of the drug and if there are any, he/she can discuss it with the nurse and other members of the health care team.
  • Let the patient participate in their treatment plan. When patients participate in their care plan, they feel a sense of independence and are more likely to follow it.
  • You can inform the patient on the common side effects that he/she may experience while taking the medicine, so that he/she will not be worried if it occurs.
  • For patients in the OPD(Out-Patient Department), members of the health care team can suggest to the patient that he/she can use aids that can help them remember when to take their medicines (i.e calendars, special containers for different medicines etc.)

Improving the drug compliance among patients needs collaboration with all the members of the health team. If everyone would help and encourage each other, then definitely, the compliance of patients will be improved, thus, leading to a successful treatment.  🙂

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