Medication Noncompliance is Taking a Serious Toll on Patients’ Health and the Healthcare System, says DoctorSolve

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Education and affordability is the remedy to ensuring patients take their medicine properly.

Medication noncompliance is a term used to describe taking medication in any way that differs from the way it is prescribed. Stopping medication early without a physician’s advice, not refilling a prescription when it is still needed, taking medication at the wrong times, taking the wrong dose, or skipping doses are all examples of noncompliance.

Dr. Zickler of DoctorSolve Healthcare Solutions ( says there are a variety of underlying reasons why patients don’t take their medication properly. “Patients may have trouble communicating with their doctor, or be unaware of alternative forms for some meds. If a patient can’t swallow pills successfully, he won’t take them. By explaining this to his doctor, he may learn that the medicine comes in a liquid form, or a smaller pill,” says Zickler. One of the biggest reasons for noncompliance however is the price of American drugs. “Many seniors have limited financial means. Stretching their meds out, or worse, not taking them at all, helps them to save money.”

Zickler joins the many physicians who are emphasizing the risks of noncompliance. “Noncompliance reduces the effectiveness of medication, increases the chance of needing further treatments and can heighten the risk of infecting others. What’s worse, it can cause a condition to become life threatening,” says Zickler. More than 125,000 Americans die each year due to prescription medication noncompliance.

Noncompliance also takes a toll on the healthcare industry, and is more costly and serious than a number of major illnesses. Medication noncompliance results in more than $270 million dollars daily in additional hospitalization and other medical costs.

Almost 60% of medication noncompliance problems are preventable by improving compliance. And that means improving communication between patients, physicians and pharmacists. Taking the time to fully explain the medication and its benefits and side effects, discussing available options to better suit a patient’s individual needs (e.g. having liquid rather than pills), and offering reminder materials such as pill boxes can all help improve compliance. “Patients who feel heard by their medical professionals, and who fully understand their treatment regimen are more likely to stay on track,” says Zickler.

For those who find the cost of American meds prohibitively expensive, Zickler points out that buying drugs from a Canadian pharmacy costs up to 40% less. “These are the same medications as those available in the U.S., and they meet or exceed the standards met by U.S. pharmacies. The only difference is they are far more affordable.”

Zickler encourages patients to ask for help in complying with their medication regimen. “Ask questions of your doctor and pharmacist, and enlist the help of friends and family to read and understand the label directions, and to establish a routine. Most importantly, for the good of your health, take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.”

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Dianne Bidewell
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