Getting a Read on the Patient’s Grapevine on a Medication

Mar 07, 2017

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryn Suzuki

Getting a Read on the Patient’s Grapevine on a Medication

TISA Description of the Problem: Concerning familiarity with medications, the culture of today is a far cry from the culture of twenty-five years ago when I first trained in medicine. Today, patients are much more familiar and more informed about medication choices. The “medication grapevine” is vastly improved. In my opinion, for the most part, this turn of events is a very good one, but there are a few downsides as well – false expectations, narrowed options, and wrong information. The following tip by Bruce Edson, M.D. can help us to navigate these problems.

Tip: I find the following simple question helps me to ferret out whether a patient has any preconceptions about a medication and what those preconceptions may be:

“Sometimes this medication can help problems like the ones you are having. Have you heard anything good or bad – from the internet, television, magazines, your friends or your family – about this medication?”

TISA Follow-up: Bruce’s tip highlights the old adage, “When in doubt, ask.” By specifically mentioning various channels for hearing about medications (e.g. “from the internet, television, magazines, your friends or your family”), I believe he increases the likelihood that he will get the whole scoop from the patient. His question also helps to nurture a collaborative relationship. It is an excellent way to take a read on what the patient’s predetermined thoughts may be regarding a specific medication while setting a nice platform for a shared discussion.

Tip provided by:

Bruce Edson, M.D.
Tampa, Florida