Following the Doctor's Orders
Following a physician's instructions is called medical adherence. A surprising number of patients do not follow their doctor's orders, which can be very risky for their health.
Not following orders can include not filling a prescription, not taking medication as directed, not attending or scheduling a follow-up appointment and failing to make a lifestyle change as directed.
Given that many diseases are curable, preventable or treatable, following your doctor's orders is vital for achieving and maintaining good health. Your doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan are useless if you don't follow his or her advice.
Patients who do not follow their doctors' orders, especially patients with chronic conditions, may experience health complications, rapid disease progression, decreased quality of life and even premature death.
Tips for Patients
If this behavior sounds like you, the following tips will help you take a proactive role in your health.
Gather basic information from your doctor about any conditions you suffer from and potential treatment options. The more you know, the more likely you will take action.
- Seek clarification right away for anything that you do not understand.
- Ask family and friends to assist you in following the orders that your doctor has outlined for you.
- Create health care goals for yourself and incorporate treatment and taking medication into your plans for achieving those goals.
- Talk with your doctor about potential barriers that prevent you from following his or her orders, and come up with solutions to overcome those barriers.
- Tailor your medical routine to your daily routine and lifestyle. This could be as simple as using specialized pill containers for your medications and placing them next to your toothbrush.
- Ask your pharmacist to send refill reminders via email, text or telephone.
- Create reminders for yourself to avoid forgetting to take medication, to get your daily exercise or to check your insulin levels.
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