Thursday, August 27, 2015

Random Observation: Math is Hard

My patient had been taking L-Thyroxine 50mcg daily for several years. A new Rx for 75mcg gets faxed over to the pharmacy. I fill it. Patient comes in to pick up med. I verify that the dose has been increased. She affirms the dose increase.

Then I did it. I blew her mind. I said, "I see by your profile that you still have many of the 50mcg tablets at home, is that correct?" She affirms that she has several in the bottle. So then, stupid me, I suggest she can use those up by taking 1 & 1/2 tablets of the 50mcg to use them up. She looks baffled. I confirm that she has 50mcg tablets at home. She says yes. I tell her if she was to take one tablet and half of another tablet that would equal 75mcg and she can use up her old medication before she starts in on the new bottle of 75mcg. She looks worried, confused, upset, and sad all at the same time. So I give up and tell her to just throw away the old bottle of 50mcg and start taking the 75mcg. She looks relieved and happy.

Pharmacists: We do the math so you don't have to.


Anonymous said...

Just to be fair, that was pretty complicated math!

Anonymous said...

Since you're so good at this, I have a lot of 88 mcgs and now need 1 cg(?), how do I break up the 88s in order to use them up?

Anonymous said...

Assuming Anonymous is taking 100 mcg now instead of 88 mcg, the dose has been increased by 12 mcg. 12/88 is about 14% of one of the 88 mcg tablets. That's hard to estimate by sight.

The lady with the dose increase to 75 mcg was on 50 mcg. That's increased by 50%, so it is easy to split a tablet in half.

25 + 25 = 50
50 + 25 = 75

So taking one of the 50 mcg plus 1/2 of the 50 mcg is

50 + 25 = 75

I'm not a pharmacist but this is pretty easy math.

Anonymous said...

As a retail technician and a pharmacy student who's just recently slogged through health literacy, this doesn't surprise me at all. Better she throws away a few tablets than stresses out about it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, taking 1 and 1/2 of a tablet is soooooooo stressful.

The dumbing down of America continues...

Stephanie said...

This reminds me of a conversation with a pharmacist, who was not able to understand that my prescription for 50 mg/ml amoxicillin could be filled with the 250 mg/5 ml amoxicillin he had on his shelf.
(I greatly respect most pharmacists, this was at a pharmacy known for hiring idiots.)

Anonymous said...

You would take eight 88 ucg per week (1 & 1/2 tabs two days per week and daily for 5 days). Total weekly dose 704 ucg.
I am a pharmacist

Anonymous said...

She probably didn't know that pill cutters exist and couldn't figure out how to cut a pill in half.

On a side note, I once had someone tell me they couldn't figure out what 1 x 10 without a calculator.