A Public Health Physician, Dr. Austine Aipoh, has called on doctors to be open to their patients and communicate better with them.
He said that better doctor-patient communication, especially regarding prescribed medications has become necessary in healthcare settings.
The physician noted that the age of hiding things from patients is over, adding that better communication with patients will help enhance medication compliance and also reduce medication-related harm.
Aipoh stated that the failure of doctors to tell patients the name of the drugs prescribed for them could land doctors in trouble.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Aipoh stressed that the era where doctors claim to know it all is over.
He said, “Right now, what we tell our colleagues and also what they are taught in medical school is that the patient has to know what he is taking.
“Apart from the patient knowing what he is taking, it also protects you as a doctor. For example, you give a drug to a patient and you don’t write the name and the patient comes back with another different complaint that may be reacting to something; he may just accuse your drug of being responsible for his problem.
“Whereas the patient may have gone to the chemist to take another medication before coming to you. So, it is a two-way thing.
“The doctor has a responsibility to tell the patient what he is giving to him and the patient has the right to know what he is taking because if anything happens tomorrow, you will be able to say the actual drug that you gave to the patient because it is documented.”
According to the World Health Organisation, medications are the most widely utilised interventions in health care, and medication-related harm constitutes the greatest proportion of the total preventable harm due to unsafe care.
“Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care across the world.
“Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions, or staff shortages affect the safety of the medication use process. This can result in severe patient harm, disability, and even death,” WHO added.
Speaking further, Dr. Aipoh noted that failure to tell the patient the name of the drug could land a doctor into trouble if anything goes wrong.
“Another reason why it is important for the doctor to let the patient know the name of the drug is that the patient may not get well and may want to see another doctor or try another facility. They would want to know what the patient had taken. So, it is extremely important and necessary for doctors to write the name of the drug for patients,” he said.
Aipoh advised patients to always ask the doctor for the name of the drugs given to them if the doctor gives them the drug, especially when the name is not there.
He noted, “You have the right to know what you are taking. It is not acceptable for doctors not to tell patients the name of the drugs that they give to them.
“We encourage patient-centered care. The most important thing when consulting with a patient is effective communication. The way a doctor communicates with the patient matters. Effective communication is part of medical training.”
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