Monday, July 27, 2009

Hello, Mrs. Geritol

Mrs. Geritol, I'm terribly sorry that my prescription for Vicodin didn't help your back pain and made you so sleepy.

In reviewing the shoebox full of medications you brought in today, it's now clear that you were really taking Valium instead. I was unaware that you had some, as it wasn't on the medication list you provided at your last visit. How you got it is anyone's guess, as it's actually in your husband's name, and the doctor who prescribed it retired and moved away in 2003.

I really do suggest you give the Vicodin another shot, especially considering that you haven't yet taken it in the first place.

I can understand you confusing the two medications, since they both begin with "V" and have 3 syllables. Anyone would have made the same mistake. I must suggest that you exercise caution in the future, as between you and your husband you also have prescriptions for Vytorin, Vagifem, and Viagra.

Thank you for coming in today. I need to go pull out my few remaining hairs now.


Theresa said...

Wow, do people really not pay attention when taking prescription medication? I mean I know people over medicate all the time, but ending up in the ER for taking the "wrong" medication would be quite embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

I have a patient who is a little old retired labor and delivery nurse. Whenever someone she knows dies, she raids the medicine cabinet. She managed to get free Celebrex for over two years!

Dr. Public Health said...

Ha ha!

I used to have patients come up to me and tell me the color of the pill instead of the name.

Apparently, this happens a lot in developed nations,mostly in rural areas. They are not literate, and they identify medications by the shape and color.

Lipstick said...

I think Mrs. Geritol asked for a refill at the Lipstick pharmacy today.

Unknown said...

I thought Valium had an amnesiac effect. And if thats the case she shouldnt of remembered the pain or at least not given a shit about it while she was taking it.

But I get ur point.

And what does Viagra do if anything for women?

Rx Intern said...


You'd be surprised at the amount of people (at least at the hospital I intern at) who have absolutely no clue what they're taking. Well, that's not altogether true - many know their pain meds well.

The majority of my patients only know if it's a "heart pill", "happy pill", or some other extremely broad name. Many don't know their dose either, just how many pills to take at a certain time.

I do and don't blame them for not knowing what they take. It's important for their health, and patients should know that bad things can happen with the wrong drug. I blame them for not knowing the name of the drug and the dosage, but at the same time, I don't blame them for not knowing this. Names can indeed be hard to memorize.

Some patients are on top of their health and safety, and I applaud them for being an active patient.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Dr. Public Health- I practice in a supposedly developed, suburban area of the U.S., and what you describe happens all the time, day in and day out.

08armydoc said...

My favorite answers are "I take a small blue one and a pink one at breakfast, but the blue one I take at dinner is larger"

I also get a big kick when patients have no clue what's WRONG with them!!!

Guy in his mid-70s the other night, to the ED for the 3rd time that I know of (for some reason he refuses to see his PCM.... and instead comes to the ED for a fingerstick of 250). So, NO complaints besides "high blood sugar".

"So, sir, can you tell me your medical problems?"

"Don't have any"

"Well, I'd assume that you have diabetes, right?"


(oookaaay, I see that this will take a little longer than expected - and no, he hadn't had a stroke nor was he listed as having any learning disability)

"I see that you have a big scar on your chest, did you have open heart surgery?"

"yeah, years ago"

"Did you have a heart attack?"

"Don't know"

(??That seems like an easy one??)

"Has anyone looked at your heart since then, either by .... or by ....?" (...=descriptions of echo and cath)

"Don't know"

(??? you mean that you don't know if someone stuck a giant needle in your groin??)

I certainly don't mean to make fun of anyone for not knowing the specifics of pharmakokinetics or disease physiology, but for god's sake, know what's wrong with you!!!!

Take a little responsibility besides, "it's in your computer" - AAAUGHGHGHGH

thegooddrlaura said...

Dr. Grumpy, do you throw the old pills away? I open up the bottle, hold it over the garbage can, look at the patient and say, "so it's ok if I throw away your late husband's 5 year old pills now, right?" At that point they almost never say no (almost) and I've gotten "permission" from the patient and I can get rid of the pills into the garbage, with the bottle right after.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Dr. Laura, I do that too.

I don't use the garbage can, though. I put them in the office coffee machine filter. Keeps the staff on their toes.

Anonymous said...

This is why Home Care is so much fun--the med list can take forever!! We no longer ask pts what they take, we tell them to put EVERYTHING they swallow, snort, rub on or gargle with on the kitchen table for review (otherwise they skip the herbals and OTC's because they aren't "real drugs" like doctors use.

LOL with syncope and multiple MD's had bee taking....drum roll please...Lasix and furosemide, PLUS Lanoxin and digitalis. Wonder why she was dizzy!!

Pattie, RN

J.J. said...

Wow... when I got Vicodin for my surgery I didn't hesitate to take it.

Love your blog by the way!

P.S. My shoulder is much better now, but I was wondering if you could write me a perscription for Vicondin over the internet without meeting me just in case the pain starts coming back?

Anonymous said...

Please do not dispose of expired or unused Rx or OTC medicines in the trash or by flushing! Please dispose of unwanted/unused medications at the drug disposal site located in your community's police station.

Dr. Public Health said...

Umm I meant to say Developing nations and not developed nations.

Kate said...

I keep a index card in my wallet next to my driver's license in case I ever forget a medication or dose. Also have emergency contacts and diagnoses. A great idea for anyone with health issues. Even though it's there for medical personnel, I've used it myself at a doctor's office when I forget. I couldn't imagine not even knowing the list though...that's just irresponsible.

In addition to knowing what I take I also double check interactions, and that the pharmacy gave me the correct medication (I received a wrong dosage once), and wrong counts a few times.

Anonymous said...

I tend to list the generic names of my meds on the list I give to my healthcare provider. Imagine my surprise on being asked what some of them were - the nurse needed the brand name, because she didn't know what the drug was from the generic name. We're talking citalopram, not something obscure. I waited until I was in my car to laugh.

JimAtTheRez said...

In my little corner of the suburbs, many people do not know what they take. But try to give them a different brand of Hydrocodone/APAP (Vicodin/Lortab)besides Watson or Alprazolam(Xanax)besides Greenstone....then the pookie hits the fan.

Sandy said...

I once had an older gentleman ask for a refill for his wife, he wanted her travel medicine. I didn't see anything on her profile that might be the one he was looking for. He was confused and I thought he might have the wrong pharmacy. After a few minutes I learned he wanted the white pill for travel, " you know, the one that keeps her quiet and me happy". We filled her Xanax and the happy couple went on a road trip.

Anonymous said...

I thought Valium only had two syllables. Val-YUMMMmmmmm.

It's Xanax that has three syllables; eX-'n'eX.

rxgirl said...

you really should consider doing stand up comedy. you are just hilarious.

Locations of visitors to this page