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Is This Patient Taking the Treatment as Prescribed?

Barbara J. Stephenson, RN; Brian H. Rowe, MD, MSc; R. Brian Haynes, MD, PhD; William M. Macharia, MD, MSc; Gladys Leon, MD, MSc
JAMA. 1993;269(21):2779-2781. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500210079036.
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Case 1  A 28-year-old woman presents to the emergency department in acute distress with a 3-day history of worsening asthma. Her prescribed medications include an inhaled β2-agonist and an inhaled steroid. When questioned, she breathlessly admits to "occasionally" missing her medications but indicates that this is "maybe only once or twice."

Case 2  A 55-year-old man with posttraumatic seizure disorder has been taking phenytoin since his injury. His seizures were initially adequately controlled but he recently has been having weekly seizures. In an office visit he resentfully denies missing any of his medication.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CLINICAL EXAMINATION  Physicians should measure compliance for patients prescribed a self-administered treatment because noncompliance is common and physicians can help patients to improve their compliance1,2 and increase the benefit they derive from therapy. Compliance with long-term self-administered medication therapy is approximately 50% for those who remain in care.3


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