DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

This week has been very enlightening, and not in a good way. I have learned a great deal about some aspects of the healthcare profession. Now, I preface my comments with the following statement: I know that not all health care providers operate this way, and that many, go to great lengths to make sure the care their patient is receiving, is the best care available. Now, having said that, let me make another comment – Just because you have told your physician, nurse, or pharmacist that you have an allergy, or that your body doesn’t react well to a certain medication – DO NOT ASSUME THAT THIS IS WRITTEN DOWN, IN YOUR PERMANENT RECORD, or EVEN THAT THEY WILL REMEMBER.

Now maybe it is necessary to remind us all, that our physicians and pharmacists are busy, and that we are not their only patient…. But, just because you told them you were allergic to a medication on your last visit, don’t assume they remembered. Also, anytime you pick up a medication, tell your pharmacists “I am allergic to ___ drug. This isn’t that medication is it? Will this one interact with what I am taking.”

You would be surprised, no, maybe amazed to learn that busy physicians don’t always look back at your file when writing a prescription. That their nurses’ may not have time to check records. That the clinic, or office, may not have kept your old records when they went to electronic records. Don’t assume anything – ASK QUESTIONS, BE PROACTIVE, Tell your friends and family the name of medications /foods to which you have a known allergy. In fact, write it down and tell every healthcare provider you meet.

Do you know the generic name as well? You should. You may know you are allergic to Bactrim, but what is the generic form? Also, it might be a good idea to know what the pills should look like. Look them up on the internet – just to double check you were given the correct medication.

Lastly, if a certain medication works for you – tell your physician. There is no sense trying something new for an infection, or something routine, if the other one has worked well with few side effects. Your physician may have forgotten that Drug A works great for you… REMIND THEM. We would hate to have you harmed by a mistake, simply because you assumed your physician or phramacist, wrote down what you told them.

As a last word, be diligent about informing your providers about an allergy. Never assume they know, or that they wrote it down when you told them the first time.

About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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