Medication Management

Who needs a pill organizer?

Not I (or so I thought.)

I only take one prescription medication, once a day.  But why, at the end of a 30-day supply, did I sometimes have one or two pills left?

I also take over the counter medications.  Was I forgetting to take some of them too?  Or taking two doses instead of one?

So I got a pill organizer.  Now I fill it on Sunday, at the same time I am planning my week.  There is no more trying to remember whether I took a pill once, twice, or not at all.

According to the World Health Organization, 50% of patients in developed countries do not take their medications as prescribed.  Certainly that is not intentional for most people. 

Medication regimens can be complex, and a person with more than one chronic condition can have prescriptions from multiple doctors.  In my practice I am frequently adjusting the dosages of medications and a person may mistakenly take both the old dose and the new dose.

With the generic medications, a pharmacy may change suppliers, so the medication that was the "blue pill" is now the "yellow pill."  You can't rely on the appearance of a medication anymore. 

I had always been casual about telling patients and their families to use a pill organizer.  Once I was called to assist a sick relative who was usually cared for by other family members.  Part of my job was to set up her enormous pill box.  It was humbling to see that it was difficult and took quite a while to set up correctly.  But then when I had to leave she and I knew that she could handle the task. 

A relative or friend who only has a limited time to help, but can come on a regular schedule, can be given this task.  Often questions about correct prescriptions and dosages only will arise when doing these organizing tasks.

Some pharmacies now will package a month's supply at a time of your required medications so that you only pick up one kit and open the medication module as needed. This option is suitable for people who are on a stable medication regimen.

My pill organizer cost $5.18 and takes me about 10 minutes a week to set up.  Small price to pay for taking medications correctly.

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