How Medication Therapy can Change Lives

South Lane Medical Group in Cottage Grove, Oregon

South Lane Medical Clinic - RxIf your doctor told you to take a medication to treat an ailment, you’d probably take it. Unfortunately, our current medical record-keeping system doesn’t always allow for a doctor to see all the medications, supplements, and current dosages you’re taking. So while your doctor’s intentions are to make you feel better, the prescription he reccomends may not blend well with what you’re currently taking.

At South Lane Medical Group in Cottage Grove, Oregon, they realized that some of their sickest patients weren’t getting better because there wasn’t a consistent process for reviewing their medication. With that in mind, they hired innovative pharmacist David Denning to review, counsel, and educate patients about their medications. 

David's goal is to improve health. He doesn't just read a chart or speak with a patient’s doctor; he makes it a point to speak directly with every patient he counsels. He knows that in order to discover the root of their health issues, he needs to have a personal conversation with the patient to get a first-hand look at their medications and lifestyle.

Not only does this benefit patients, but doctors who are puzzled about their patients’ health problems can also use him as a resource. Primary care, urgent care, and ER doctors who are routinely treating the same patients without success can refer patients to see a qualified expert on medicine to ensure their medications are helping, not harming them.

Case example: The Licorice Mystery

South Lane Medical Group - LicoriceJustin* was experiencing a heart arrhythmia that was baffling his doctors. Justin's lifestyle and medical history didn’t appear to be the cause, so his doctor referred him to South Lane Medical group for a medication evaluation. The doctor hoped that an experienced pharmacist might discover a flaw in Justin's medications that was causing this arrhythmia.

Justin met with David face-to-face. He brought along all of his medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins, so David could see exactly what he’d been taking. After a close examination, David was as puzzled as Justin's doctor. Nothing in his combination of medications should have been causing the arrhythmia.  

Rather than give up, David started asking questions about everything in Justin's diet. When asked if he regularly ate large quantities of any particular food, Justin replied that his favorite food was black licorice. In fact, Justin was eating about a pound of licorice every day.  

The sheer quantity threw up a red flag with David, so he looked for a potential connection between licorice and a heart arrhythmia. He found that while Justin's medications weren’t clashing with each other, one of them didn’t mix well with black licorice. Based on David's suggestion, Justin stopped eating licorice immediately, and his arrhythmia slowly faded away. After months of tests, doctors, and medications, the solution was as simple as not eating his favorite candy.  

Had David not taken the time to speak face to face with Justin, he never would have made the licorice connection.

Unfortunately, our current system lets a lot of patients like this “slip through the cracks.” Even if Justin had told his doctor about his licorice habit, a primary care physician might not have the proper background to spot the issue. Justin needed an innovative approach to get better, and that’s exactly what South Lane Medical Group provided.

How did PacificSource’s Community Health Excellence Program support this initiative?

Since medication therapy isn’t currently covered by insurance, PacificSource funded the program for two years. In that time, David consulted with 464 patients. He continues to provide medication therapy today.

Right now, medication therapy is trying to gain traction in the medical field. Once the medical public realizes the cost savings and patient benefit, it can become a more utilized form of treatment. PacificSource and South Lane Medical Group share the same vision, and see the incredible value of medication therapy. PacificSource wanted to plant a seed with South Lane Medical Group in the hopes that their work would be recognized, and in time, become sustainable.

*Name changed for privacy.

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Last updated 7/31/2013