Saturday, 29 September 2012

Patient’s Right To Know The Name of The Medicine

Patient’s Right To Know The Name of The Medicine

It is generally thought that the patient has the right to know what remedy he is being given and by law doctor is bound to tell the name of the prescribed remedy, because ultimately patient is responsible for his own health. Is it true for homeopathic remedies? Practically it is never beneficial for the patient to know the name of the homeopathic remedy even if it was helpful. In this article we will discuss this issue in detail. All the situations described below are real situations faced during clinical practice.

1.     The patient may have experienced it several times that when ever he used this remedy (self-medication or otherwise), it aggravated his condition. Therefore he makes up the opinion that this remedy is not suitable for him and he fears to use that particular remedy and he will avoid to use that remedy. Whereas the same remedy benefited the patient when it was given without disclosing its name.
2.     The patient got enormous relief in some particular disease. Now there are two things which are equally harmful, (i) he will generously suggest that remedy to patients having the same disease or condition, (ii) he may use this remedy for the same disease in future. Whereas in homeopathy two patients suffering from the same disease may require the different remedies depending upon their peculiarities. Moreover the same patient may require different remedies for the same disease at different times. You can not imagine the damage caused by this inadvertent use.
3.     During treatment when the patient is heading towards cure, his symptoms take the form of waves and cycle, i.e., disappearing and reappearing, with reduction in duration, intensity and frequency. During this time, only placeboes are given to the patient. Now if the patient knows the name of the remedy, he will take the remedy during the return of the symptoms, or he may repeat the remedy in an attempt to get a rapid relief, and by doing so he may spoil the case.
4.     Remedies may have several shades and the doctor knows how he arrived at a particular remedy. When the patient reads the symptoms of that remedy in a book or on the internet, he finds that all or some of his symptoms do not match with the remedy. Even worse, he may find that some symptoms of the remedy are exactly opposite to his disease. He thinks that the doctor has not understood his case and he loses the confidence in the doctor and does not take the prescribed remedy.
5.     After getting prescription, patients often get second opinion from another doctor, friends, and patients having similar disease or pharmacy salesman and in almost all cases potency is changed without the knowledge of the doctor. In some cases, even the remedy is changed altogether. How can the doctor assess progress of the case and proceed further?
6.     When you tell the patient to take a single dose of this remedy and wait for a month or two. The patient becomes suspicious and apprehensive about so long duration of action of the remedy and he will not follow your instructions. He will repeat the remedy without the doctor’s consent. He may lose confidence in your prescription.
7.      There is a general concept that some remedies, e.g., nosodes and snake poisons are very dangerous and deep acting, therefore these should be avoided. By knowing the name of the remedy the patient may become fearful, and will tend to avoid the treatment. The other drawback is that if the patient takes the remedy in spite of having all the fears and apprehensions about the treatment, his mental state will be altered altogether, which will affect the treatment.

Now the question: if a patient switches doctor, how shall the new doctor know as what had already been given?
It does not matter which remedy the patient has taken previously, whether it was helpful or otherwise. The basic rule for the second prescription is, each time the patient comes, take him as a fresh case. Patient’s present condition and predominating symptoms will determine the new remedy. Practically there may be several situations. Some examples are given below which will explain that knowledge of the previous medication is not so helpful.
i.                    Previous doctor has prescribed some patient combination preparations, may be one or more different bottles.
ii.                  Combination remedies plus single remedies.
iii.                More than one single remedies were alternated.
iv.               It may happen that the previous remedy was not helpful because it was not the indicated remedy.
v.                 Although the previous remedy was correct but it was not helping the patient due to wrong potency or some other factors.
vi.               The previous remedy was helpful but now at this stage it may not be indicated due to change in symptoms. Therefore, fresh case taking is required.

Now the final question: How shall doctor be held accountable for the consequences of medicine being given?
Technically it is very difficult to prove that the homeopathic remedy has some adverse effect on the patient, because several other factors can contribute to deteriorate the patient’s condition and these have no connection with the doctor’s negligence. Some examples are given below:
1.     Patient has not followed the instructions properly, e.g. (i) medicine was not taken at the regular intervals and at the proper time (ii) patient missed some medicine doses.
2.     In an attempt to get rapid relief, patients often take herbal and conventional medicines along with homeopathic treatment, or they repeat the dose of homeopathic remedy too frequently.
3.     Remedy was not purchased from some reliable pharmacy.
4.     Patient has consumed some food articles which have adverse effect on the homeopathic remedy.
5.     It is a well known reality that in most of the cases if homeopathic remedies do not act favorably then they do not harm also.

Any comments, difference of opinion would be appreciated.


  1. Thank you Dr.Sultan. But let us not deny that some (actually many) homeopaths hide behind these logic and play with the patients health purely to retain him/her forever. I have seen such doctors.

  2. Thank you for your comments. I agree with you. It is a bitter reality but as a sincere homeopth I must tell the right way. Thanks again for your bold comments.