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When Prescription Directions Are Unclear

“Take one to two pain pills by mouth every 4 to six hours”

To me that is clear.  I was reminded recently that it isn’t to all patients.

A patient complained of lack of relief from her pain medicines after surgery.  Her description of the pain didn’t suggest any complications so I ask how she was taking them.  I was looking for a way to safely use NSAIDS or Tylenol as a boost rather than giving her something stronger.

“I take one pain pill and then wait an hour to take another one.”

I prompted her to tell me when she took the next dose.

“I wait four hours and then take one pain pill, but I wait for six hours to take the next one.”


I had mentioned to her and her caregiver that due to her small size she should begin with just one, then wait for 30 minutes to an hour to see if she needed the second one.  They were doing that, but the other part wasn’t clear. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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