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Millions ignore doctors’ and pharmacists’ advice when taking medication

One in four patients ignore instructions on how to take medicines, survey finds

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 14 July 2014

One in four patients deliberately ignore instructions about how to take a course of treatment prescribed by their doctor, a survey commissioned by Pharmacy Voice has found.

Furthermore, only a fifth of patients said that they always complete a course of medication.

The survey of over 2,000 patients carried out in June found that a quarter of people believe that a course of treatment does not need to be followed rigidly to get better. In addition, 45 per cent said they trusted their body telling them they felt better more than they trusted a prescription course of a treatment. This is concerning because while not completing a course of medication may not only delay recovery, in the case of  antibiotics it can also promote the development of resistance.

The survey also showed that one in ten people took more than the recommended dosage. Furthermore, a quarter do not always use measures when taking liquid medication, which means they may be taking sub-optimal doses or higher than recommended doses. One in seven admitted that they have used out of date medicines, and one in 20 have taken medication which was prescribed to family or friends.

Four in ten patients said they kept unused prescribed medicines in case they needed it again. Less than 40 per cent return unused medicine to the pharmacy and a quarter throw it in the bin or down the toilet.

Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice said: “It’s easy to assume that patients will follow the advice of pharmacists and doctors, because they are the experts, but we know that it’s more complicated than that.” 

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