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Patients who do not use their prescriptions


Up to 20% of patients given a prescription in general practice may not take it to a pharmacist,1 quite apart from the many others who fail to use their drugs even when they have bothered to obtain them.2,3 This failure is often due to poor discussion and lack of information; many patients have mistaken beliefs about drugs.4 Sometimes a patient’s decision not to cash a prescription reflects a failure by the doctor to identify the main reason the patient came to see him;5 many patients do not always expect a prescription when they consult their doctor. Unless the need for the prescription is clearly explained the patient may feel it is not worth paying the prescription charge. Patients are more likely to be satisfied if the doctor explains what he is trying to achieve and are then more likely to use any medicine he may prescribe.6,7 Doctors need the courage to say that a prescription is unnecessary.8

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