The Importance of Medication Adherence

Is It Okay to Miss Taking a Dose of My Medication?

In short, no not really. Depending on the type of medication, you may have a negative reaction from missing a dose.

As busy people, leading fast paced lives we can be prone to forget things like filling our car up with gas the night before an early shift at work, bringing headphones to the gym, and yes even brushing our teeth before bed (its true). Once in a while you may forget to take a dose of your medication and just say, “eh it’s just one dose. What’s the worst that could happen?” In some cases, nothing and you’ll be fine. In others, your condition can worsen or even become fatal. Let’s dive deeper.

Medication adherence is generally defined as the extent to which patients take medication as prescribed by their doctors. This involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medication on time, and understanding the directions. Studies show that, 20% to 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, that about 50% of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed, and that lack of adherence costs the health care system at least $100 billion each year. This is a major problem!

When can skipping a dose of medication be a problem?

Missing a dose of your antibiotic can prove troublesome as they generally exit your blood stream quickly, meaning your last dose is probably no longer actively in your system when it’s time for your next dose. This means missing a dose can cause your condition to worsen, become harder to treat, or you can experience unpleasant side effects and complications.

What do you do if you miss a dose?

DON’T double your next dose of antibiotics if you’ve missed a dose. This will increase the likelihood of experiencing unwanted side effects. You should take your missed dose as soon as you remember, or if it’s almost time for you next dose, simply skip your missed dose altogether. If you have realized that you have missed multiple doses, you should reach out to your doctor. You should also refer to the patient information leaflet (PIL) that comes with your antibiotics, as it will include the manufacturer’s advice about what to do if you miss a dose. Ask the pharmacist for a PIL if you have not been given one with your medicine.

This image shows a woman taking her medication as prescribed.

Causes of medication non-adherence

  • Some patients may be afraid that they will experience negative side effects of the medication and just decide it’s safer to not take it at all. They may have experienced nasty side effects from a similar drug and assume it will happen again.
  • The price of filling the prescription may be a cost that the patient either can’t afford or it just doesn’t seem worth it. In 2019, the Kaiser Family Foundation found 29% of Americans failed to take their medications as prescribed because of the cost.
  • Having to take multiple medications can make it confusing to remember which one to take at which time.
  • People often stop taking their medication when their symptoms are no longer there. They will assume that because they are feeling better, the medicine is no longer necessary. It is important to finish your medication as prescribed because if you don’t, your illness is likely to come back.

Tips to help you remember to take your medications

  • Take your medications at the same time every day. This may sound obvious but maintaining a routine can really keep you on track. Pair taking your medications with things you do at the same time everyday such as brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, or before going to bed.
  • Use a pillbox that has the days of the week. Gather all your medications, write down how many doses you must take a day, and then fill the pillbox as necessary. Keeping your pillbox somewhere you will see it, such as on your bedside table will also help keep you on track.
  • Set an alarm or reminders. Use your phone or smartwatch to alert you every time you need to take a dose. There are also apps you can use such as Medisafe Pill Reminder  and Mango Health.
  • Use timer caps on your pill bottles so you can see the last time you took a dose.

YOU GOT THIS!

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