On behalf of our clients, Commercial Eyes’ Medical Information team has the serious responsibility of providing up-to-date, accurate and relevant information to our callers, whether healthcare professionals, consumers or carers. Our team members are usually the first to hear of patients’ adverse events and must report these incidents comprehensively, accurately and in a timely manner. But our callers occasionally give us something to smile about and here is our Top 5 from 2012:
1. A patchy situation
A patient informed us by phone that he was having trouble with one of his medications. “Which one?” he was asked. “The patch. The doctor told me to put on a new patch every six hours and now I‘m running out of places to put it!” We asked this man to count how many patches he had on his body and, yes, he had over 20! His healthcare professionals had omitted the all-important instruction to ‘always remove the old patch before applying a new one’!
2. Make the medicine go down.
Some dear callers provide our consultants with precious hours of lovely conversation, which has included life histories, knitting patterns, complex medical histories and, of course, issues with their medicines. One lady had a lot to say about the size of her capsules: “I took one dose and it nearly choked me. The capsules are much too big. They’re a round shape. They need to be long and slender. If you want information on how to make a decent capsule, contact Company Z – I’ve been on their capsules for years. They’re about a centimetre long and they shoot down. I’m a 98-year-old woman and I’ve tried to take these capsules three times – I had a bad fright and I nearly choked to death. Something that would slither down would be better. Change the shape and try it out on your staff. Oh, and can I have a refund?…’
3. A smooth journey
Another lovely lady called us at every major stop on her trip around Australia to let us know that her osteoporosis medicine had resolved her constipation – something that had been troubling her for years! A consultant at Commercial Eyes always managed to take these calls and grew to look forward to hearing that this patient’s bowels had become beautifully regular and had stayed that way all around the country. Of course, our consultant wasn’t so fond of the fact that even though this was a positive effect of the medication, it was still an effect; every time the patient called, an Adverse Event report had to be updated and lodged!
4. Sweet dreams
An elderly gentleman wrote Company Z a lovely letter explaining that ever since he’d started taking a particular NSAID, he’d stopped having to get up at night to urinate. He was sure there was a large untapped market for this particular indication and we should act quickly and perhaps conduct a trial amongst our staff so we could sell more of this miracle drug! Yes, you guessed it, another AE report!
5. Take a deep breath
We’re still trying to resolve an enquiry we received from a patient towards the end of 2011. He called to say he’d been prescribed a well-known inhaled asthma medication for eosinophilic oesophagitis. The patient had, of course, been instructed by his doctor to administer the medication to his oesophagus, and indeed, the pharmacist’s label stated the same. If there’s anyone out there who can help us with instructions on exactly how the patient can apply this medication to his oesophagus, we’d love to hear from you!
As a postscript, when our consultants are not busy taking calls from people who want to book an ultrasound appointment for their mother’s left breast (no, we’re not kidding!), answering complex questions about the particle size of asthma medications emitted from particular inhaler formats, or the implications of long-term use of statin medications, they are dutifully reporting the Adverse Events that are presented to them in their daily interactions with enquirers. A quick look through our Adverse Event (AE) reports from the last few months revealed the following rather humorous AE’s:
- Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.
- The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
- Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
- On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.