Healthmart Pharmacies: Prescription Noncompliance

Hal Roe with HealthMart Pharmacies shows what you need to know to avoid this dangerous situation.


Prescription noncompliance is typically cited as occurring in from 50% to 75% of patients. In other words, in the United States, 50% to 70% of all prescription medications are not properly taken as prescribed by the physician.

What is Noncompliance

• Not filling a prescription initially

• Not refilling a prescription when still needed

• Taking a medication at the wrong time

• Stopping a medication before medication course is completed without your physicians advise

• Taking the wrong dose

• Taking a medication incorrectly

• Skipping doses

• Taking someone else’s medication

Reasons for noncompliance

• Forgetfulness

• Side effects

• Drug to expensive

• Thinking medication is used to treat something other than what it is intended for

• Taking someone else’s medication (same drug different dose)

• Feel like you are better so you no longer need it

• Did not refill prescription so ran out of medication

Medication noncompliance is a major health problem

A few stats:

-Approximately 125,000 people with treatable ailments die each year in the USA because they do not take their medication properly.

-Fourteen to 21% of patients never fill their original prescriptions.

-Sixty percent of all patients cannot identify their own medications.

-Thirty to 50% of all patients ignore or otherwise compromise instructions concerning their medication.

-Approximately one fourth of all nursing home admissions are related to improper self-administration of medicine.

-Twelve to 20% of patients take other people’s medicines.

-Hospital costs due to patient noncompliance are estimated at $8.5 billion annually.

Ways to increase compliance

The Five Rights

Right drug ~ Always carefully read the labels, many drugs have names which are very similar. Also, if a drug looks different than previously, don’t hesitate to call the pharmacist to ensure that the correct drug was dispensed.

Right person ~ Read the label for your care receiver’s name, don’t assume that you have the right bottle as another family member could be on the same medication, but a different strength

Right dose ~ Don’t give medication doses “by memory.” The dose may have changed. Read the label!

Right time ~ Although with many medications, there is generally a “two hour window,” try to stay as close as possible to the scheduled dosage times. (this means that if a medication is scheduled to be given at 1:00 pm, it may be given at any time from 12:00 PM (noon) to 2:00 PM or an hour before to an hour after the scheduled time. Thus, some medications may be “grouped,” and given at the same time. However care must be taken to avoid giving drugs together which are incompatible, would cause adverse side effects, or decrease their effects, if given at the same time or too close together.)

Right route ~ of administration (oral, injection, etc). Again, read the label. An oral medication administered as an injection can have fatal (not to mention painful) consequences.

Educate before you medicate.
The first and most important step is to educate yourself about the specific drugs you use, the conditions they are intended to treat and the expected effects.

Build a partnership

Work towards a partnership with your physician or pharmacist so that you both understand your treatment goals and can work together to accomplish them

Don’t be afraid to “bother” your doctor or pharmacist
If you find that a drug is difficult to take, is causing unpleasant side effects, or may be to expensive let you doctor or pharmacist know right away. There may be another way to treat your condition or symptoms. Also there may be different times or ways to take the medication that will minimize the side effects. Or maybe there is another drug that would not cause the bothersome side effects or be more cost effective.

Compliance aids

Lastly there are different compliance aids that will help you to remember to take your medications when prescribed. They can be as simple as writing them on a calendar and crossing trou them when you have taken them. The use of weekly pill boxes can also help. There are alarm watches that you can purchase to when and what pills you are to take and at what time. Our pharmacy uses a system called medicine on time it is a monthly pack of medications that on the back of each individual dosing cup it has the patients name, the date and time of day to take the medication as well as a list of all the medications that in the cup. They are also color coded tray to designate the time the doses should be taken whether morning, noon, evening, or bedtime.

So as you can see noncompliance is a real issue that not only cost us a lot of extra money but can be the cause of early admission of our loved ones to a nursing home or the worsening of a disease that we may be needing treatment for, or ultimately as the studies show early death.


Visit your nearby HealthMart Pharmacy including Wangsgard HealthMart Pharmacy in Ogden (801) 399-4400 and Valley Pharmacy in Eden (801) 745-1800.

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