By Linda Formichelli, Contributing Writer
You're taking medications for diabetes, heart disease or an infection — or maybe you're not taking them. When you don't take your drugs as prescribed, doctors call it "poor medication compliance" or "non-adherence." This health snafu can be costly to your pocketbook — and your health.
WHAT IS MEDICATION COMPLIANCE?
Medication adherence or compliance means taking medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes. That means taking the medicine in the right amounts, at the right times and for as long as your doctor says.
Fifty percent of people with chronic illness don't take their medications as prescribed. People with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease are less likely to take their medicine correctly than those with acute illnesses, such as an infection, probably because people with chronic diseases often need to take many medicines long-term. It makes sense: The more medicines you take, and the longer you take them, the more chances you have to use them incorrectly at some point.
Sometimes, patients are noncompliant because they're hoping to save money or because they feel the drug isn’t working. In other cases, it's because their doctors didn't communicate the benefits of the medication well or prescribed a complicated drug regimen that was hard to follow.
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?
Medicine only works when it's taken as directed. Missing doses, taking medicines at the wrong time, or even stopping medications altogether is especially risky for people with chronic disease.
Also, trying to save money by stopping a medication or taking less than prescribed can lead to health problems — which may turn into more medical bills down the road.
TIPS TO STAY ON TRACK
Ready to get back on the bandwagon with your medication — or to make sure you keep taking them as directed? Talk to your doctor for tips on staying compliant, and also try these tips:
I'm not taking my medications as prescribed because the drug regimen is confusing.
I'm not taking my medications as prescribed because I keep forgetting to take them.
I'm not taking my medications as prescribed because I’ve run out.
I'm not taking my medications as prescribed because the medication doesn't seem to be working.
Your wellness depends on taking your medications on time and as prescribed. Try these strategies to help you stay on track — and stay healthy.
A final note: Never stop taking a medication without first talking to your doctor, even if you feel better. If you take the wrong dose of medicine or miss a dose, call your doctor for instructions. If you think the medication is causing you problems, call your doctor. People can have a life-threating allergic reaction to a medication, though this is very rare. If this happens, call 911.
Copyright © 2014 myOptumHealth.
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