Helping Clients Understand Prescriptions

Posted by Positive Impressions on Oct 10th 2019

Medicine can extend the lives of your patients and make their quality of life better, but only if it’s administered properly. Unfortunately, it’s easy for confusion to arise between dispensing medications and their administration. These tips will help you make sure your clients know how to dispense medications, problems they should look out for, and when they should call with questions.

Draw Attention to What’s Important

When you plan out your prescription labels, take an approach that prioritizes information that will be important to the client. Almost every time a client picks up the bottle, they’re looking for three pieces of information:

- The medicine
- The dosage
- Warnings

Using bold text and highlighting is a great way to have important information stand out.

Don’t forget to have the patient’s name clearly printed on the label. It’s not uncommon for pet owners to have two or more pets on the same or similar medication. For example, if two dogs are getting heartworm treatment, it’s easy to count pills to see which dog has had its dose.

Go for Clarity and Simplicity

Keep product warning labels (PWLs) to a minimum. The more instructions a label has, the more likely the client will make mistakes when storing or using a medication.

Be as clear as possible when giving dosage instructions. Latin abbreviations should be avoided throughout the prescription process to avoid confusion. While it’s easy to tell the difference between “once daily” and “four times daily,” it’s easy to confuse their Latin shorthand, “qd” and “od.” Using phrases like “once daily at mealtime” encourages clients to administer drugs at the same time each day.

Describe the Medicine

We’ve all dropped a pill at one time or another. Having pill information on the bottle makes it easier to identify these medicines when they’re rediscovered. Include a description of the medicine, including its shape, color and any printed information. This information can be critical for care if another animal or a child eats a pill.

Included Contact Information

When you add your clinic information to the label, be sure there is an easy-to-find number the client can call if they have questions along with the information the pharmacist will need to identify the patient and prescription. This includes the prescription number, prescribing physician and number of refills. You may want to separate this from the main clinic information for clarity.

Drug and Food Interactions

While you probably know to ask about interactions when you get a prescription, this is an easy step for both clients and vets to miss while treating a pet.

For example, you prescribe a medicine that has the PWL “Do not give with steroids, aspirin & other NSAIDs.” This keeps the label simple, but your client may not know what an NSAID is. By asking them if their pet is ever put on aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen during counseling, you can avoid drug interactions.

Supplements are moving into pet care, including everything from vitamins to CBD oil. Be sure to ask about these products when counseling the client. You may want to have your staff ask clients about supplements before a visit so they have time to check labels or bring in products for inspection.

Counseling is Critical for Correct Use

No matter how clear the labeling is on any medication, the instructions can be interpreted in several different ways. Before the client leaves your office, make sure they understand when and how to administer the medicine, as well as how the medicine should be stored. Here are some topics you should cover when counseling clients:

- What are some common side effects with this medicine? Which side effects can be ignored, and which ones should be cause for alarm?

- If a medicine says, “once per day,” when in the day should it be administered? Some clients will give their pet the medicine at the same time each day, while others administer medicine whenever it’s convenient.

- What happens if they forget a dose, or their pet vomits up the medication? When is it safe to give another dose?

It also helps to recommend or practice strategies for administering medicine. Learning to wrap a cat is a lot easier with help from medical staff than it is the first time the cat needs medicine.

We Make Prescription Labels Easy

Positive Impressions, LLC does more than reminder cards: our custom printing services are also available for prescription labels. By using our label wizard, you can be sure your labels will work with your printer. We also have pre-printed prescription warning labels and kennel tags to help your clients and staff keep track of medications. Check out our current specials on our website.

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