Why is it that unexpected medical problems always happen at the most inconvenient moments: like halfway through Christmas lunch or when the chimes are striking Midnight on
New Year’s eve.
It might surprise you to know that, if you go to A&E, are admitted to hospital or even seen by an Out of Hours GP over the Christmas holiday, they won’t usually have
access to your own GP’s comprehensive notes about you. They may not know what medications you usually take, or why, or if you have any allergies. If you get sick on the day
before Christmas Eve this year, the people caring for you may not be able to get information from your GPs system until the day after Boxing Day!
So, this year, why don’t you take a moment to make sure that you and those you care for are prepared for the season of Bank Holidays and bad weather by writing a different sort of
Your Christmas List – Medication
Get out your most recent prescription. Write down the names and doses of all the medications you take or make a photocopy. If you can, try to write down the reason that you
take each medicine e.g. Paracetamol for pain, Amlodipine for high blood pressure. If you don’t know the reason why you are on a medication then put a star by it and make sure you
talk to your doctor or nurse about this at your next “Medication Review”. Some surgeries may advise you to make a whole, routine appointment to discuss your medication in detail and
see if there’s anything that isn’t working for you or could be stopped.
In the meantime, don’t stop or change a medication without speaking to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist who knows your medical history. This is especially important in the middle of the
holiday season when it might be harder to get advice: so make sure you do a stock check of your medicines and ensure you have enough to get you through until the New Year. Please
do this is in plenty of time: pharmacies and GPs surgeries are snowed under with these kind of requests in the weeks around Christmas. But we’d still rather you let us know before you
run out of tablets rather than needing to call the Out of Hours doctors on New Year’s Day!
While you are writing your list, remember to add any drug allergies you have. Again, if you aren’t sure, this is something you should ask your doctor or nurse to write down for you next
time you see them. It can be hard to remember drug names when you are unwell or worried about a loved one.
Finally, date the list. Just because this information is true on the 15th of December 2017, doesn’t mean it won’tl change over time. An electronic list is a particularly good idea as it is
easier to update.
Hopefully, over the next few years, patients are going to find it easier to access their own medical records which are stored in their GP systems. This will mean you won’t need to write
down these kind of lists and your GP team will ensure your records are uptodate as they always have done. Until then, have a go at writing a little list like this to make sure you are
prepared, whatever surprises the festive season has in store for you and your family.
Dr Amy Kerstein MBChB (Hons) MRCGP DFSRH
(Many thanks for your wise advice Dr.Amy!)