Why Patients Don’t Always Take Their Medications

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When you get sick and visit your doctor, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll receive a prescription for medication. The purpose of the medication is usually to treat the symptoms of your illness and resolve the issue. While most people understand that medication is intended to address the health issue, there are many instances where the medication is never taken. It’s more common that you probably realize. 

The likelihood of someone with a chronic condition not complying with the doctor’s prescription is even more prevalent than it is for someone who has a minor issue like a common cold. As with anything else in life, keeping a commitment over the long haul can be challenging. In some instances, a patient’s failure to take their medication might result in an extended period of illness or a worsening of the condition. 

It’s believed that twenty-five percent of prescriptions written are never filled. The number of patients who fill their prescription and then don’t take the medication jumps to fifty percent. There are a variety of reasons why people don’t always take their medication, even when the prescription is filled and readily available. Unless they are receiving medical care and a device like an IV infusion pump is used, most patients will be responsible for taking their medication. 

In some cases, patients make a decision based on their experience or information they have uncovered about a certain medication. For example, if a person has experienced the same illness in the past and it was resolved without any medication, there’s an increased chance that they will not take medication for the subsequent illness. In the age of the Internet and online access to so much information, there are many times when a patient finds information online that may dissuade them from taking their medication. 

Common Reasons Why Patients Don’t Take Their Medication 

  • Side Effects: Over the years, there have been a lot of commercials that discuss the many side effects of medication. This creates a concern in the mind of some patients who ultimately decide not to take the medication.
  • Lack of Trust: Some patients are concerned about whether the pharmaceutical industry is simply out to make money. Similarly, they may feel as though their doctor is motivated by financial gain as opposed to what’s in their best interest. This causes them to feel like taking the medication might not be in their best interest. 
  • Too Expensive: There are instances when patients simply don’t fill the prescription for their medication because the cost is beyond what they can afford. 
  • No Results: Sometimes patients start taking their medication, but fail to get refills as prescribed. This may occur because they did not see any initial results and concluded that it was a waste of time.
  • Confusion: When the number of prescriptions a person has increases, there’s a chance that they will start to feel overwhelmed or like they don’t fully understand each medication. This is especially true if the dosing requires them to take medication throughout the day.
  • Addiction Concerns: Given the problem with addiction that has become prevalent across the United States, some patients choose not to take medication because they are worried about getting addicted.


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