Plan Your Next Medicine-Toss: Conquering a Polypharmacy

Dana Corriel, MD

Dana Corriel, MD

A board certified internal medicine physician who, mid-career, swapped stethoscope for computer screen, and has become a digital brand consultant. for individual health experts and businesses, alike.

First, a quick definition.


What Is A Polypharmacy?

pol·y·phar·ma·cy
ˌpälēˈfärməsē/
noun
  1. the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single ailment or condition.

Are You Taking Part in a Polypharmacy?

If so, then listen up.

There are, indeed, many patients out there, who can be classified under this term. Is it completely necessary? Or is it something that can be avoided?

Unfortunately, the public often seems to believe that physicians automatically prescribe medications. Some think that physicians even benefit from these prescriptions being sent. Others simply label us ‘pill-pushers’. They believe the meds are simply e-prescribed to merely shut the patient up, or end the visit with a satisfactory feel.

But I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Not the way I practice, nor the way other honest practitioners do, either.

Shortening the List. 

It gives me no greater joy, as a physician, than to watch my patient evolve into a healthier individual. To shorten his or her medication list is exactly part of his process. It can happen, and it does. In fact, I see this play out, time and time again, and for me, it never gets old.

Take hypertension, as an example.

Dropping a blood pressure medication is extremely empowering, from my end and especially from the patient’s.

How do we accomplish this? Patients often start out in need of a medication, only to come in months – sometimes years – later, new and improved. They may have implemented a low-salt diet (it can be as simple as identifying high-salt foods that we may not know is a culprit). Or initiated a new gym regimen, and consequently lost weight.

Pressure reductions often follow these changes. As a practitioner, I love when that happens. I feel pangs of pleasure just watching success unfold, imagining it a reflection on me, after all, even when I know darn well that my role is merely standing on the sidelines and cheering.

Patients Are the Real Players.

When the players – our patients – are in the red zone, they have every ability in their power to make their own moves. Jump over hydrochlorothiazide. Juke atenolol. Spin move enalapril. The moves aren’t real, of course – they’re all metaphors for ‘beating’ the meds. Insert your own choice medications instead of mine, and when you toss them, you feel great.

For when the play is done and my player has ‘scored’, the feeling – of elation, of pride – are indescribable. I’ve seen it so many times, behind my closed exam room door.

We celebrate – my patient and I – by ‘throwing a party’ right then and there, in the room. The patient is clad in their uniform (ok, sometimes it’s a gown – you say tomato, I say tomatoe), and the air is filled with the sounds of praise and high fives. I personally hear the imaginary crowds cheering loudly, and it turns the achievement into a celebration. In my mind, at least. But hopefully also for the patient.

Applying the Concept To Other Meds.

The best part is this – it doesn’t need to end at just blood pressure control. Apply above to other ailments and you’ll find a similar process, and same end-point jubilation.

Tackle elevated cholesterol. Back pain. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Even the common cold!

Successful dropped medication visits should always end in a victory dance.

#Successful dropped #medication visits should always end in a victory dance. Click To Tweet

How To Drop A Medication

So how does one drop a medication?

First you have to be in a position to do so – i.e. having lost weight, or dropped a bad habit, etc.

Second, doing it with your doctor’s approval and direct observation is a must.

Remember, when you’re ready for a medication toss, your doctor will guide you through lowering the dose, weaning off, or a plain cold-turkey end. Getting there may be hard, but can lie in your hands.

You’re the player, after all.

Make a plan with your doctor and decide if taking away a medicine is in the stars for you. Even make it a plan from the start! Never, ever get discouraged as you keep your eye on the ball.

The goal-post may not be far downfield and your own medicine-toss may be just a few shoves away!

Patients w/polypharmacies need a plan of action, or at least a yearly review of their #medication list. A pleasant surprise awaits patients who do this & they'll often end up with emptier pill dispensers. Click To Tweet

A single football sits neatly on football turf, on the left hand corner of the picture.

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