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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Let The Doctor Know

My wife has been on a medication that we're hoping will help with some non-serious but annoying problems she's been having.  Unfortunately she is having some common side-effects which are bothering her.  Tonight she said that she's thinking about stopping the medication because of how it's making her feel.  While I certainly understand her concerns I imagined how I would feel if one of my clients did this.  I insisted that she call her doctor, talk about it, and at least let him know what she was doing.

This afternoon at work I saw a dog that had been seen by my associate back in October for an eye problem.  She had started him on a medication and scheduled a follow-up for five days later.  That was over two months ago.  The medication didn't help and the problem got worse. It was initially in one eye and now is affecting both, as well as worsening.  What was initially likely inflammation of the eye is developing into glaucoma in one of them.  It may not have reached this point if the client had come in for the follow-up or at least called to talk about it.

Communication with your doctor is very important.  Whether the treatment is for yourself or your pet, always keep your doctor in the loop.  Changing dosages without first talking to your vet or physician can lead to side-effects, serious consequences, or lack of improvement.  Drugs have durations, intervals, and dosages are all done for specific reasons and changing any of that could be a real issue.  

There are few things more frustrating that having a patient come in and finding out that they stopped a medication without consultation, or altered the dosage.  Sometimes it is appropriate to do so because of side-effects or lack of response, so we as doctors may agree with you.  But if we don't know about these things we may make inappropriate recommendations for care or even misdiagnose something because we assumed a treatment that wasn't actually happening.

Most doctors will actually pay attention to what you say.  I've had to alter medications many times due to client-reported problems and am always glad that they've informed me about it.  That's how a client-doctor relationship is supposed to work.

So please, let your doctor know what's going on with your pet.  Is the medicine causing side-effects?  Is it not working?  Did it work well?  All of these things are important for the vet to know as they can help us plan for future situations with that pet.  

Keep your vet informed.