Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“Of course, I do not take medications that I no longer need.”
“Wouldn’t my doctor automatically stop a medication that was no longer needed?”
“My doctor reviews all my medications.”
If you take five or more medications, this includes supplements, over-the-counter, and herbals, there is a good chance that at least one of the medications is potentially unnecessary or inappropriate. Unfortunately, it is not automatic to stop medications. Some medications are continued longer than necessary, and some are continued, cause side effects, and another medication is added for the side effect which is thought to be a “new symptom”. Lastly, listing all your meds at your office visits and how you take them is a list, not necessarily a review.
Polypharmacy is considered taking five or more medications. Polypharmacy may be appropriate and necessary when treating multiple health conditions. Polypharmacy can also be considered inappropriate if medications are unnecessary. A medication deemed beneficial years ago may not be beneficial at the current dose or may worsen another health condition. Some conditions resolve, however, medications are still continued. These are just a few reasons as to why a medication may become unnecessary which will vary from person to person depending upon health conditions, health status, and concomitant medications.
So now let me ask again, are you overmedicated? Do you take five or more medications? How long have you been taking some of the medications, years, possibly decades? What do you consider a medication review?
Reviewing medications takes into account a number of steps and considerations.
Let’s start with the first step.
- List all the medications you take-be certain to include all prescriptions and non-prescription medications
- Next, write down the reason for the medication, if you are uncertain put a question mark or “don’t know”
- Now answer two more questions,
- Does this health condition still exist?
- Is the medication controlling the medical condition, in other words, is it working?
Keep returning to the website to learn the next steps of medication reviews and the deprescribing process.