By Melinda Juneau,

It is no secret when a doctor gives you a list of orders and instructions, you should follow them. After all, didn’t you just pay this person money to provide you with their knowledge in hopes of improving your health?  Yet every day, patients walk into the doctor’s office and walk out, with no intention of following his/her orders. Some will not even go into the office unless it is a life-threatening emergency.

Every year, the number of non-compliant patients averages between 40-50%. This range means close to half of the people seeing a doctor for a medical problem do not follow the doctor’s advice. The number is the same for patients and for the guardians of minors who need medical care.  With the proper techniques and a plan, this number can be decreased in your facility.

You may have patients that come into your facility who are sticklers for the rules.  They don’t cross the street until the “Walk” light comes on, they don’t cut the tags off of their pillows, they always pay their bills on time, and they certainly don’t abuse the medications they are prescribed.  In fact, they may not even take them!  This type of behavior is usually justified by the patient because they feel just fine.  A doctor or staff member may hear things like:

“The doctors don’t understand that I feel fine. I don’t need my medication for hypertension today.”

“I don’t have to exercise every day, just the days when I eat unhealthy foods.” 

“My child doesn’t need a check-up. They aren’t even sick!” 

“The baby has normal sugar levels right now. No need to poke and prod them tonight.”

These are all excuses heard by the medical community in some form or another.  If these patients would only realize, they are creating an unhealthy lifestyle for themselves and for those in their care. The damage caused by non-adherence to medical treatments can ultimately take their life.  Studies have shown that non-compliance in patients causes approximately 125,000 deaths per year in the US, according to the American Health Care Association Journal. Preventative and procedural care can increase a patient’s quality and length of life, but they have to do what is required.

What Should Medical Professionals Do?

It is important to realize that you are dealing with adults. These adults may not be making the best decisions, but you are not their parent and cannot demand they follow your instructions.

Medical adherence begins to work when you talk with your patients, not at them. You need to formulate a plan with them, not give them a static list of do’s & don’ts, and then be on your merry way.  Decide how they will get through the holidays on their stricter diet, work through how they will enjoy a cruise without being exposed to the sun every second, and formulate a plan for working out when it is rainy, and they had a long day at work.  If they feel as though they are in control, the patient is more likely to follow the plan.

There is a part of human nature that wants to rebel against the establishment, to be a free spirit.  The medical team at your facility should be a friend to the patients, not the authoritarian figure who commands the patients.  By taking this approach, your facility will benefit from patients who adhere to the medical advice and instructions given.

If you would like to work in a facility where teamwork is stressed, and patients are given the best care, contact us at Snelling Medical today. We can place you in a facility where medical adherence works, and the patient/doctor relationship is positive and proactive.

 NOTE:  A full-color,downloadable PDF is available.