QID - QOD: What's The Difference?

by Brent Aleshire, MSW

To Frank (not his real name), and thousands of others like him, the difference is a matter of life and death. Our story begins when Frank was admitted to a hospital with breathing difficulties. His physician ordered the usual breathing treatments, tests and medication.

After a few days in the hospital, Frank's recovery had progressed steadily, but he still wasn't strong enough to return home. Arrangements were made to admit him to a skilled nursing facility for continued care and convalescence.

One of the medications the doctor prescribed for Frank was Bumex, which is typically used to treat respiratory problems such as those experienced by Frank. The doctor ordered Bumex one time, every other day. That is exactly what was written in his medical chart: "Bumex, 1 tablet, QOD" (QOD is the Latin abbreviation to indicate "every other day").

When Frank was transferred to the skilled nursing facility, a copy of his doctor's orders accompanied him. These orders were typed and placed in an envelope. When Frank arrived at the facility, the nurses on duty opened the envelope and noticed that Frank was taking Bumex, 1 tablet, QID. Remember, Frank's doctor had ordered Bumex, 1 tablet, QOD. In the transcription of the orders, someone accidentally typed "QID." What's the big deal, you might ask?

In medical language, QID means four times a day. So at the skilled nursing facility, instead of receiving this extremely powerful medication every other day, he was being given eight times the ordered dosage. Within a week, Frank had died.

Frank's story is an example of a tragic but avoidable situation. To prevent these types of scenarios, we must take an active role in our own health care, especially when dealing with medications. Our health care system demands that we comply with strict and often confusing instructions about medications. Without an organized system in place, unforeseen medication errors can happen.

It is estimated that misuse of outpatient prescription drugs costs more than $85 billion each year. Almost 30% of all hospital admissions involve misuse of outpatient medications. With these staggering facts in mind, it is vital to carefully review your medication with your physician during each office visit. Use the following list of questions to help you understand the need for medication, as well as its proper use:

Take a list of your medications (including non-prescription or over-the-counter medication) to all your doctor appointments. This list is especially important if you are seeing more than one physician. Your physicians need to know specifically what medications you are taking, as well as the reason for taking them.

To provide an additional layer of safety, share your medication list with your pharmacist. It is estimated that pharmacists may prevent more than 100,000 deaths from misuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications and save billions of dollars if they cold review prescriptions and offer counseling to patients. As an active medical consumer, insist on up-to-date information from your physician and pharmacist to ensure your well being and safety.

Finally, be sure to tell you friends and family that you love them at least "QD" (Latin for once a day).

Contact Information:

Seminars For Health
780 East Imperial Drive
Hartland, Wisconsin 53029
800 295-4508

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About the Author

Brent Aleshire has developed a program that allows today's health care consumer to build a productive and open dialogue with health care professionals to ensure proper care. Sign up and receive a list of questions to ask your doctor about medication.

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