Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
Is Medication Management the Result of Over Prescribing
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I will admit that my memory isn’t what it used to be. As I approach sixty, I find it easier to forget things. I also find it easier to misremember things I sincerely believe I am remembering accurately. With all of that said, I don’t remember medication management being a formal medical discipline when I was a kid in the 1970s.

Rheumatic fever had me hospitalized for three weeks in 1997. I was confined to bed rest for another three months afterward. During that time, I took medication. I think I would remember medication management if it had been applied in my case. I have no such memories.

This has led me to ask some troubling questions about why medication management is now an officially recognized discipline. Attempting to answer my own question through research has led me to an equally troubling conclusion: much of what we do in modern medication management may be the direct result of overprescribing.

The Basics of Medication Management

Medication management is a recognized practice of implementing policies and procedures designed to ensure that patients take their medications safely and effectively. People who take multiple medications on a consistent basis are the most likely candidates for medication management intervention.

At KindlyMD in Utah, medication management is on the list of available services. It is not uncommon for KindlyMD clinicians to work with patients who are taking both prescription and plant-based medicines simultaneously. Think of chronic pain and PTSD patients taking multiple medications.

KindlyMD clinicians help those patients manage their medications more effectively. Other clinicians around the country do much the same thing. Their medication management programs often include things like:

  • Maintaining medication lists.
  • Providing dosage and timing schedules.
  • Providing reminders and organizational tools.
  • Regularly following up with patients about their medications.

Again, it is all designed to make sure patients are taking their medicines as directed, thereby staying safe and enjoying maximum efficacy. But think about it. How many medications does a patient have to take before needing assistance from a medication management specialist?

Taking Too Many Drugs

The underlying impetus behind medication management is getting a handle on medicating when multiple drugs are involved. Remember, we are not talking exclusively about preventing negative drug interactions. Medication management covers everything from keeping an accurate list of all medications to following a schedule for timing and dosage.

Curiosity led me to look into studies on the topic of overprescribing. Unfortunately, I found plenty of them supporting the idea that western medicine prescribes too many drugs. One of the more recent studies was published in 2023. Among its conclusions is the fact that the average American adult will spend roughly half his or her life taking some sort of prescription.

Half Your Life on Drugs

According to the study, Americans born in 2019 will start taking prescription medications earlier than ever. A typical female will start taking them by age 15; a typical male by age 40. When you account for average life expectancy for both sexes, a typical female will be on a prescription medication for 60% of her life. The average male will be on prescription medications for 48% of his life.

To me, there is something wrong with that picture. I cannot accept that medication management is necessary solely due to a growing number of chronic conditions, technological advancements, and stricter safety protocols. The fact that most Americans will spend at least half their lives taking prescription medications tells me we take too many drugs. And because we overprescribe, we need medication management to keep all those drugs under control. It is not good.

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