Knowing as much as possible about your medications and medical conditions is invaluable and can be life-saving.
If you were rushed to hospital and couldn’t tell the emergency doctors what medications you were taking because you didn’t know, you may miss days of essential medications while the doctors try to contact your GP to get a medication list. Even then, this list is not always up to date and accurate.
If you came in with a serious bleed and couldn’t tell the doctor what blood thinner you were taking, this could delay treatment and result in catastrophic outcomes. Or the doctors could unknowingly put you back on a medication you had a severe reaction to.
If you know your medications well, you may be more prepared in the case of an allergic reaction or side effect. If it was a serious side effect, recognising it early and knowing what action to take could potentially save your life.
Carrying a medication list with you can be incredibly useful, however, if you don’t know what’s on there or if it’s even up to date, then it can be useless and potentially detrimental.
When you go to see other healthcare providers, if you can tell them what you are taking and what it’s for, it can make their job a lot easier. Having this important information can allow them to make the best decisions about your care.
Doctors and healthcare professionals have gone through rigorous training and have every good intention but don’t always get things right. It is human nature to make mistakes and while every effort is made to avoid making them, they can still happen. If you are blindly following orders, you could be blissfully unaware of potentially serious medication errors.
Knowing what you are taking and how to take them are all very important but knowing the purpose of the medications and how long you should be taking them for can be just as important. For example, if you saw a specialist who started you on a medication that was intended to be taken only temporarily or short term, if this was not communicated back to your GP and you didn’t pay attention, then you could potentially end up taking it (and paying for it) for years more than you were meant to. This means you are exposing yourself to a medication unnecessarily, potentially putting yourself at risk of side effects or other problems.
It is well recognised that people who are properly educated on their conditions and medications are more involved in their medical decision making and tend to take responsibility for their health. Information is power and the more you know, the more you become empowered to take the necessary steps to control your health and to get the best results.