- Are you choosing your doctor correctly?
- Are you choosing your prescription/ OTC medicines correctly?
In order to take an informed decision, one needs to obtain background information about your potential doctor, clinic, hospital, medicine (and pharmaceutical company that makes them).
Here are few quick tips -
1. Check if the doctor's degrees are authentic: With so many cases of degrees being forged and quacks running the hospital show, one needs to be sure, that the doctor who would potentially treat you is at least the medical expert he/she claims. An easy way is to check with medical colleges, city medical registry etc.
2. Surf internet about the doctor, clinic, hospital. Much information will be available (of course you need to screen wisely). Patients, caretakers, relatives post their experiences for the benefit of others. Try to source maximum information (in public domain) that will help you to decide.
3. Get a detailed quote about doctor’s fees, surgical procedures involved, time taken, hospital stay, approximate cost of medicines etc. Compare quotes and if there are major discrepancies, investigate deeper.
4. In cases where a clinic or hospital expect patients to consume medicines and/or medical devices provided by the healthcare facility (and not buy from an outside pharmacy), doubly ensure authenticity of such medicines/ devices. It might seem gory but I’m aware of incidences where, stents picked up from the ashes of cremated angioplasty patients have been re-used by hospitals! Unbelievable and horrifying isn’t it?
5. Take a second opinion about the diagnosis before embarking on the therapy. And severe the ailment, more important it is to take an independent second or third opinion regarding diagnosis and prescribed line of therapy, medicines to be taken. (I do understand this costs money. But then it’s better be safe than sorry). I’m aware of cases where patients were diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery for breast removal. After several years they got to know that their diagnosis was wrong. It had happened because of a medical error by the radiologist.
6. Before buying the prescribed drug products check if this medicine needs to be taken for life time. For example, blood pressure, diabetes medicines are to be taken lifelong. Check immediate and long-term side effects of drugs.
Importance reference points are-
Physician’s drug reference (PDR) available in your library or online.
US FDA –Adverse events reporting website
Independent free internet sites:
Please note I am not associated with any of the above-mentioned internet sites, so I cannot vouch for them. It is therefore recommended to do good due-diligence before accepting information provided online by any website.
Also, check if there are any reported interactions of the prescribed drugs with other drugs or food that you might be taking. For example, patients taking anti-malarial drugs such as Choloroquine, must abstain from taking tea and coffee (for the time they are on the medicine) to prevent eye damage.
7. Check who is the innovator company for this drug. Also, check which other companies are making and selling this drug in your country. Do price comparisons.
The innovator company as the name implies, is the one who invented this drug and introduced in the market for the first time. Other companies sell generic versions of the drug. Both innovator and generic medicines are supposed to be equally safe and effective (scientifically termed Bio equivalent or therapeutically equivalent) in patients. Whether to buy a drug product from an innovator or a generic is left to the patient’s discretion.
8. Check about the pharmaceutical company that manufactures and sells your medicine.
Some companies don’t manufacture drug products they sell. These companies have them contract manufactured at other places. The rules surrounding contract manufacturing and labeling vary in different countries. In certain cases, this information is printed on the product label as “Manufactured by (name of the company) and marketed by (name of the company)”. In any event, this information is available for public reference at every country’s local FDA office.
Do an internet surf and check published reports, reviews about the company. An important point to note is whether the company has received 483 notices (i.e. notice of non-compliance to prescribed regulations) from FDA. This link gives free information about USFDA inspection reports, observations and 483 notices to pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food companies http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/ucm250720.htm#
Check if at any point of time the company was de-barred from importing/ exporting into your country. Also, check what steps did the company take to amend the matter before their marketing permission got re-approved.
9. Check with your pharmacy if they have received complaints about the product from other customers.
10. Check if the medicine has been dis-approved or discontinued in any country, yet available and prescribed in your country.
My experience is that, good doctors usually appreciate when a patient takes interest in his/her well-being. Patient’s motivation certainly gives a big boost to a doctor’s therapy.
Good doctors are happy to see their patient’s cured. So please discuss your drug research findings with them. Help them to help (treat) you. Your updates will also help other patients (with similar ailment).
Hope this information benefits you and your loved ones. I’ll sign-off on this note-
Yes, YOU as the patient have a right to choose both your doctor and the medicines you take.
Don’t be a meek patient and accept whatever is handed out to you. Be vigilant and decisive.
Get well soon… stay healthy and happy.
Disclaimer- In addition to terms and conditions, readers are advised to please note that, the information contained in this article is NOT a substitute for medical advice. It is intended to empower general public to understand the pharmaceutical world and consider ideas and alternatives while discussing their specific health scenario with medical and pharmaceutical professionals. Please discuss your specific scenario with a qualified Medical Doctor and ONLY follow health advice given by a qualified medical professional. Also, please note that each country has its own health care related regulation(s), readers are therefore expected to over-ride any information presented here to adhere to rules of their land.