Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Too many pills!

My colleague Dena Rifkin, ably assisted by someone you know, has interviewed people living with Chronic Kidney Disease, which ipso facto means taking ridiculous numbers of pills, about what that is like.

You won't be surprised to learn that it's a PITA, and that people often come up with reasons why they don't really need to take this one or that one, or not all the time, or even if they do think they probably ought to take them all they don't necessarily do it anyway. And oh yeah, this is not necessarily a fit subject for discussion with their doctors.

One reason this happens is because they have several different doctors, who don't talk to each other. Another reason is that they take pill B to counteract the side effects of pill A, and then they end up taking pill C to counteract the side effects of pill B, etc.

And the true fact is, some of those pills are indeed less important than others, but if the people don't discuss it with their doctors, they'll make their own decisions about which ones those are. Better for docs to have these discussions and prescribe fewer pills, which the people might actually take. I have a couple of very good ideas about why those discussions don't always happen -- what are yours?


roger said...

doctors are sometimes a bit imperious. they don't always explain things well. i'd hazard a guess that there is a correlation between patient education and productive discussions with a doctor. (didn't you tell us something like that in an older post? maybe i'm citing you) i'm lucky enough to have a partner who is undaunted by doctors and has lots of questions.

kathy a. said...

yay, robin!