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|Drug: The Double Edged Knife (Part 5)|
Mohamed H. Dahir, (Chairman, Pharmaceutical Association of Somaliland)
It is the responsibility of your doctor to COMMUNICATE with you about the medicines he has prescribed. When a physician prescribes a drug, he has an obligation to warn the patient about the drug’s potential for causing adverse reactions, especially the more serious ones. For example, the possibility of drowsiness resulting from an antihistamine can be serious for an automobile driver. It is absolutely essential that you as the patient and consumer understand the nature of your illness and the consequences of treatment.
Prescriptions written in illegible Latin abbreviations may serve as a secret shared with the pharmacist but are a poor start to communication with the patient. As has been pointed out they often do neither and tend instead to cause confusion or inaccuracies. It is better to write the prescription in plain language and to explain what it means, encouraging the patient to ask questions and make comments on whether the regimen matches his daily activities.
It sounds great, but what do you do when your doctor refuses to provide the information even after you ask for it? Well, in the first place, do not let him get away with treating you like an ignoramus. Unfortunately, our culture has loaded the physician with the impression that he belongs to a prestige profession. Your doctor is not divine and sometimes he makes mistakes. The medical literature is filled with horror stories about doctors who have prescribed the wrong drug in the wrong dose to the wrong patient. You do not want that to happen to you, so ask - demand if necessary - what your doctor has prescribed, and make sure that he has informed you about the effects of the drug as well. The public has the right to know about side-effects as well as the benefits of the drugs they are taking. If after all this, he still treats you with less than total confidence and candor, then may be it is time for a change, even if he is the greatest doctor in the vicinity.
To be continued next week