Wednesday, June 16, 2010

unfortunate asthmatics

I guess I'm not too surprised that most asthmatics don't take their medicine as prescribed, as my doctor hinted at in this post. Honestly, there was a time when yours truly wasn't the best asthmatic patient either. Yet why does it have to be this way?

So if your doctor prescribes for you to take Advair to control your asthma, why would you not take it. Better yet, If you quit taking your asthma controller meds once you start feeling better, does this make you a goofus asthmatic?

My regular readers know the goofus asthmatic, as he is the asthmatic who is lazy, or who does everything wrong. He fails to take his medicine as prescribed, and he ultimately ends up back in the emergency room.

Yet, does lack of wisdom, and lack of a good asthma doctor, make the patient a goofus asthmatic. Truly, I don't think so. I can even give you a reason I think this way. Actually, I think the reason is doctors. I think poor education. I think unfortunate asthmatic.

There you have it, another asthma type. The Unfortunate asthmatic is the asthmatic who would be a gallant asthmatic if only he knew better; if only he were better instructed by his physician; and if only his doctor was on his case when he didn't take his medicine.

A recent study performed by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit shows that, "patients are more likely to routinely take inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for asthma control when physicians kept close watch over their medication use and reviewed detailed electronic prescription information, including how often patients fill their prescriptions and the estimated number of days each prescription would last."

The researchers also noted that: "Unfortunately, overall patient adherence to ICS medication is poor, accounting for an estimated 60 percent of asthma hospitalizations. So it's important, as we move forward with health care reform, to look for more effective ways to make sure patients stay with their prescription regimens."

This sounds like common sense that a doctor would follow their patients, yet I know from my own personal experience that even the best asthma doctors do not necessarily follow their patients outside the hospital unless a patient ends up sick or something.

I'm not saying doctors are bad, by no means am I doing that. And the way doctors are rushed by too many patients may actually encourage them to want to get the patient out of the office as quick as they can so they can move on to the next patient.

Still, it only seems like common sense if every doctor would follow the guidelines set forth in this post, they would all be gallant asthma doctors.

For example, your doctor should know what medicines you are on, how often you are using your medicine, and should always ask how your asthma has been the past 2 weeks. If your doctor notices you are not taking your medicine, then you ought to get a lashing. Well, not really, but he should ask to see you.

And, essentially, doctors who were allowed to keep track of their patients prescriptions, so that if you weren't taking your Advair he could make you aware of how important it is that you take your Advair especially when you are feeling well.

Sure there might come a time when you no longer need your asthma controller medicines, yet your doctor ought to tell you that chances are if you have asthma you will probably have to take these medicines the rest of your life -- not just until you feel better.

In a sense, asthma medicines are like blood pressure medicines: you need to take them exactly as prescribed. Yet it appears that not only do most asthma doctors not think of it this way, neither do patients. Yet, it's hard to get patients to be compliant when the doctor isn't.

So, henceforth, we have the unfortunate asthmatic: The asthmatic who quits taking his asthma medicines because he starts feeling better. He does this because his doctor, or other medical professional, has not properly educated him on the importance of taking asthma controller medicines especially when you are feeling well.

Unfortunate asthmatics may give the appearance of goofus asthmatics, or sometimer asthmatics, or even poor patient asthmatics. Yet in reality, they are the victims of poor education more so than anything.

And, quite frankly, I'm not sure what an be done about this. Doctors are not lazy, they are simply busy and humble, and don't want to be overbearing.

Yet, perhaps, as this study shows, if doctors are able to follow their patients medicine usage, perhaps they can better stay in touch with what their patients are doing, and take the time to educate.

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