Overcoming Medication Misinformation

If you’ve worked in pharmacy and medication management for any period of time, you have certainly ran into medication misinformation.  In my work, I will often get asked questions by nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians.  Those questions also certainly come from patients or caregivers as well.

Here’s an example of a question I received the other day, “Someone is telling me I can’t split my atenolol tablets, is that true?”  What is my process with questions like these?

  1. I can’t help but question myself first.  Is that really true?  Make sure that YOU know what you are talking about.
  2. Almost always, regardless of the question, I try to figure out the source of the medication misinformation.
  3. Following identification of the source, I definitely try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Did they misspeak, did the person asking the question misunderstand or mishear the person providing the medication information?  Were they thinking of a different medication?  All of these things have certainly happened to me before.  The last thing I am interested in doing is shattering a patient’s confidence in one of their healthcare professionals.
  4. If necessary, and if the source of the information was another healthcare professional, I do consider following up with them.  Nursing has historically been very receptive to receive medication information from pharmacists.  Approach is important if you are going to educate a prescriber about a piece of medication information.  I usually try to reframe the question/education around patient safety”Mrs. Smith informed me that you had mentioned that she cannot split her atenolol.  I just wanted to make sure that you didn’t intend to change her dose or that she heard you correctly?” – (RESPONSE FROM HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL) – After you get their response, you will hopefully understand where they are coming from and educate them as needed.

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  1. Nahed

    True; always happens

  2. Mary

    Excellent post! Handling the issue in this manner certainly avoids issues with nursing down the road.

  3. Patricia Poczciwinski

    Good stuff as always


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Written By Eric Christianson

February 1, 2017

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