Pharmacology: terminology, side effects and adherence

Presenter: Dr. Elena Rivera-Patton

Presenter: Dr. Elena Rivera-Patton

Elena is a foreign medical graduate with an MD from La Salle University in Mexico City, and a BA from Earlham College in the U.S. She has worked as a medical interpreter for more than 10 years, and is nationally certified.

Learning Objectives:

a) Familiarize interpreters with most common pharmacology vocabulary;

b) The most frequent side effects discussed in clinic and hospital settings; and

c) How to address and discuss issues of adherence: is the patient really taking the medications, and if not, what are the reasons for that.

Summary of Topics:

Vocabulary like absorption, allergic reactions, interactions between medications. Common side effects like nausea, headache, and less frequent side effects like anaphylactic reactions. The adherence piece can be fraught with cultural difficulties, because in many cultures patients tell the providers what they think the providers would like to hear, and not necessarily the truth. An example of this is that the patient may say that he/she is injecting insulin regularly as prescribed, but may have the belief that using insulin will cause blindness. The role of the interpreter here is to help the patient explain to the provider what his/her beliefs are, and what is the real situation regarding which prescribed medications they are taking.

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