The Patients Bill Of Rights


As a practicing Community Pharmacist, I have encountered times beyond count, patients who come to the Pharmacy with dispensary envelopes with no names, except directions such as ‘take two tablets daily’. However, these people want me to tell them the name of ‘this white round tablet’ and what it is used for. It is amazing.

patients bill of rights

There are several ‘white round tablets’, where do I start looking? Aspirin? Septrin? Vitamin C? flagyl?, among others. This is even worse if the tablet has no marking or inscription. I usually ask, ‘why didn’t you ask your Pharmacist?’ The response is usually a bewildering look of ‘you mean I could have asked?’ defines right as ‘a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral: a moral, ethical, or legal principle considered as an underlying cause of truth, justice, morality or ethics’. In other words, your entitlement to certain things based on legal, ethical or moral standards.

When it comes to your medications, there are two major rights that you have, and should exercise.


The Right To Know

A patient called me one afternoon and asked, ‘what is loperamide hydrochloride used for?’ I explained that it is a drug used to treat diarrhoea. In sheer amazement, he said, ‘but I have constipation’ he obviously did not ask the prescriber any question.

One of your greatest rights is your right to know. Not only can you ask your physician what his/her diagnosis is, i.e. what he thinks may be wrong with you, you have a right to know the treatment plan, and a right to know the name of the drug.

Often times, people report side effects of some drugs, or incidences of over-dosage, and we are presented with a difficulty in administering solution; and prompt response is delayed because the person doesn’t know the name of the drug that he/she is reacting to.

In addition, you have a right to know what the drug is used for, why the drug is being prescribed to you, and the potential side effects. You are the one taking the drug into your body, why shouldn’t you know about it? Proper knowledge of your medication also improves your compliance.

The Right To Refuse A Medication Or Treatment Plan

You can refuse medications or treatment plans due to reasons ranging from cost, work schedule, to potential side effects. No one can shove a drug down your throat.

If you prefer paracetamol caplets to the conventional round tablets due to ease of use (swallowing), make your doctor or pharmacist aware. If you are not satisfied with the doctor or pharmacist’s explanations, ask questions, or opt for better alternatives.

You could ask questions like; ‘Can you give me a drug with a lower frequency of use, as my work schedule may hinder me from using the drugs according to your directions?’. It is that simple.

Your health is your health, and you should be involved in every decision regarding it. These are your rights. Exercise them.

By Pharmacist Yomi Komolafe 


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