Dr. Demetra Antimisiaris on Medication Management

by Mary S on September 11, 2012

NightingaleRx had the pleasure of talking recently to Demetra E. Antimisiaris, PharmD, of the University of Louisville Geriatrics Polypharmacy Initiative. We’ll be sharing several posts about what we learned from her, starting with a recent interview she did for Kentucky Educational Television on How to Recognize Side Effects of Over Medication. You can watch the video, or read our notes below with tips for patients and caregivers.

* Healthcare system hasn’t set up a mechanism for overall medication management. Medicare doesn’t pay for medication management. It’s not ideal that personal responsibility is required, but until the system changes, individuals need to do their own advocacy. There is a rising awareness that we can’t have good outcomes without a handle of the whole picture of medications.

TIP: Get involved in the medication management process. Get comfortable asking questions of your doctor. A good question to start with is “What side effects should I be watching for?”

* There is no set number of medications that is too many or too few. The key is to recognize side effects of medication. The hallmark of medication related side effects are non-specific complaints. “My head (or my muscles, or my stomach) hurts”

TIP: Talk to your doctor about changes and pain, even if you can’t pinpoint a reason.

* Allergic reactions happen right away. In longer acting drugs, symptoms take a corresponding longer time to appear. Symptoms can appear days to weeks after beginning a medication.

* Signs of medicine-related problems include: agitation, maniac behavior, confusion, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and falls.

* Sometimes antibiotics or other short-term drugs have adverse reactions with long-term medications for chronic disease management.

TIP: Keep a log when you begin a new medication or stop an old one. Review the log with your doctor.

TIP: Be alert to changes in your health and note them in your log. Don’t attribute symptoms to “natural aging process” before discussing with your doctor.

* There are more medications today. The Physicians Desk Reference (a book with drug information published by the drug manufacturers) has grown from 1,500 pages in 1969 to 3800 pages today.

TIP: If you’re elderly and having trouble keeping a log or you have vision problems that prevent you from seeing the writing on the labels, seek help. Your family may able to setup medications each week; your doctor can arrange home health care for you.

* Healthcare providers don’t always communicate with each other about you. Your family doctor might not have accurate information on current medications if you’ve been hospitalized recently and they changed up your medications. If the doctor doesn’t know what you’re taking s/he could make decisions with incorrect assumptions.

TIP: Review your current medication list with your doctor on every visit.

TIP: Keep an up-to-date list of meds in your purse or wallet in case of emergency

TIP: At least annually, bring all everything you take in a bag to the doctor. Include prescription medications, supplements, over-the-counter items (including antacids), and vitamins.

We hope you find these helpful.

Until Next Time,

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