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Correct medicine dosage is the focus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) for all patients and staff. Providers are responsible for explaining to all patients the importance of the proper use of medication.

"Not adhering to a medication regimen is detrimental to good health," said Cmdr. Kevin Dorrance, chief of service for the internal medicine clinic. "We are trying to improve your quality of life. Your adherence is based on how you feel and how the medicine works for you because of side effects. An example would be an allergy medication that might cause fatigue, but when you're having more severe symptoms, you might take the medicine despite the side effects or when there is another alternative. When it comes to something like diabetes or hypertension, it could be life prolonging," said Dorrance.

He added that the cost of non-adherence to medications can be huge.

"In some cases, you could die from a complication of not taking a medication for things such as diabetes, a stroke or a heart disease. If you are taking the correct dosage, these things can be [managed]," said Dorrance.

He pointed out medication adherence is the responsibility of the patient and provider.

"As a provider, you feel very strongly about writing a prescription if there was an indication for the patient to take it.

"Choosing medication is usually a shared decision between a physician and a patient, so it's very important to keep their goals in mind. You could feel as strong as you want about treating something, but if the patient is not going to follow through, then you need to take a different approach," he said.

Accountability goes both ways, said Adenike Oke, a registered nurse with internal medicine.

"I always tell the patients to keep up their end of the deal," said Oke. "If they are prescribed a certain amount of medication, take the right amount in the right amount of time. It's only fair because if the doctor prescribed the wrong medicine, the patient would be upset. Not taking the right amount of medicine is equivalent to taking the wrong medicine."

For more information on proper medication adherence, contact your primary care manager (PCM) in the internal medicine clinic at 301-295-0196.