Research into the absurd amount of prescription medicine Americans take has turned up an alarming fact. Half of the people taking prescriptions can’t even name a single one of their medications.
A study at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine showed that nearly 50 percent of patients taking antihypertensive drugs in three community health centers were unable to accurately name a single one of their medications listed in their medical chart. That number climbed to 65 percent for patients with low health literacy.
“It was worse than we expected,” says lead author Stephen Persell, M.D. “It means doctors can’t ask patients to tell them the medications they are taking for their chronic conditions like hypertension. It’s very hard to get at the truth of what medications the patient is actually taking.”
Even examining patients’ medical records won’t necessarily tell a doctor what pills a patient is swallowing. Persell said some patients continue to fill old prescriptions even if a doctor has changed the dosages or the medication.
“I’ve seen patients who continued on drugs that I told them to discontinue and stop taking drugs I never told them to stop using,” Persell said.