Doctors may need to identify an unknown treatment for several reasons:
After an acute overdose the drug must be rapidly identified without waiting for time-consuming analysis. In hospital this emergency is not rare.
Liaison between the general practitioner and hospital is often imperfect and either party may be unclear about the treatment the patient is receiving from the other. This is much commoner than overdosage.
Most general practitioners at some time participate in an arrangement that involves a deputy. One doctor may then see a colleague’s patient without immediate access to the record card. Uncertainty about treatment in such circumstances is experienced by every general practitioner and many consultants seeing patients referred to them.
Many patients take more than one kind of preparation: if one is to be changed, or its dosage altered, the patient must be certain which is the one affected.
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