Prescription Woes

By Rick Redalen, M.D.

Anybody wonder today when we have all this new medication available to us why we are not living longer and better? How many of the medications we take actually do something for us?

When I first started practicing medicine in 1969, we had a nursing home in Princeton, Minnesota called the Elim Home. I guess now the term nursing home is probably politically incorrect. Now we are upgraded to a “senior retirement facility.”

When I first started taking care of patients at the Elim home it was pretty typical of many nursing homes. Many of the residents were on long lists of medications. This is not necessarily the fault of any one physician or nurse. It is just that often orders are given to take care of an acute problem and they do not have a die date when the order or medication should no longer be given.

And so the list grows. I decided in the first couple of weeks that we had to start over. All medications on all patients were discontinued unless the medications were absolutely critical. As it turned out most medications did not need restarting and it seemed that many of the patients were mentally more clear and functioning better.

What do all of the new medications we have do for us? We do know they make the pharmaceutical industry one of the strongest money making machines in the world. But of one thing I am sure, they are doing it all for you. Money is just a byproduct of their altruistic aims.

Electronic Prescription Writing

By Rick Redalen, M.D.

Remember how great we have always heard electronic prescription writing was going to be? Our prescription would always be there waiting for us at the pharmacy by the time we got there.

How about the times when the prescription is not at the pharmacy when you arrive. The pharmacy says to the patient, “We have a call in to your doctor’s office.” A day or two later the pharmacy informs you your doctor has not called back. And so it goes.

You then take it upon yourself to also call your physician’s office. You are reassured your prescription will be called in immediately. Does this refrain sound familiar? I suspect the pharmacy can reach your physician’s office about as easily as you can. It just can’t seem to be done.

It would be great to have the days back of handwritten prescriptions. That way if your prescription did not get to the pharmacy, it was on you.