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How to Keep Your Doctor from Overprescribing (or Wrongly Prescribing) Prescriptions

August 26th, 2014

As patients, we go to our physicians looking for answers, and when we’re not feeling well we prefer that the answers they give us are easy and are going to work quickly. In the age of the Internet we often enter our doctor’s offices armed with information that we’ve learned from doing our own research or from advertisements we’ve seen on television or in magazines, and we may even request a specific medication by name, as though we know that taking an aggressively-marketed pill is the answer to all of our problems.


Unfortunately, the research that we do does not make us doctors and the information that we’re fed by advertising does not address our own unique needs, but all too often physicians go along with our requests and write the prescription that we’ve asked for, or perhaps for that and for what they would have prescribed originally as well.  It has become far too easy to simply write a prescription and move on to the next patient, and as a result billions of prescriptions are written in the United States every year, many of them unnecessarily and some of them dangerously. A recent study showed that in one out of every twelve U.S. doctor’s visits, the patient was prescribed medication that was not appropriate or even harmful.


Prescribing the wrong medication and having a patient take the wrong medication has enormous costs. The original condition that the patient sought help for will not be addressed, and may even become worse. Misprescribed or overprescribed drugs can pose a health threat, and on top of all of that, enormous amounts of money are being wasted on drugs that should not have been prescribed in the first place.


To protect yourself from the dangers and costs of being incorrectly prescribed or overprescribed a medication, there are a couple of steps that you can take. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you have provided complete information to your physician in any paperwork that you fill out. Providing an accurate history of your own health as well as a complete list of any medications that you are taking is an important responsibility, and one of the easiest ways to protect yourself.


Once you’ve ensured that your medical records are accurate, when your physician prescribes a new medication it is a good idea to ask them to refer back to your history to make sure that a previously prescribed medication isn’t the cause of your symptom. All too frequently drugs are prescribed incorrectly because a physician thinks a symptoms is caused by a disease when it is actually an adverse reaction to another medication.


Ask if a medication that your physician is about to prescribe is your only option. Stopping your physician from his automatic course and making him think about alternatives may be enough to shake him out of his prescribing habit and turn to lifestyle alternatives that may serve you better and prevent you from taking medication that is unnecessary. And remember that he is the physician – there’s no need for you to come in with a list of medications you’re interested in. Buying in to drug company advertising doesn’t do you any good.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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