If a drug is to be taken reliably and regularly, a patient must be informed fully about that drug. A plan of the proposed management and possible side-effects of the anti-epileptic drug must be discussed with the patient (or family) at diagnosis and at the outset of treatment. In the children’s seizure clinic at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital (Alder Hey) and at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, families are provided with a drug information sheet with written details about the drug. Included is information about:
• its preparation (e.g. tablet, capsule, or liquid);
• the method of administration;
• the dosage regime;
• its possible interactions with drugs bought over the counter in chemist’s shops as well as with other prescribed drugs; and
• its side-effects.
Advice is also given regarding what to do about doses which are forgotten, missed, or vomited.
Written information is in addition to, rather than a substitute for, oral advice. Patients often do not remember, or may misunderstand, much of what is said to them by doctors in a busy hospital clinic or surgery. This is particularly relevant with regard to adverse events or side-effects. Unexpected side-effects may distress or annoy patients (and their families) and thus adversely affect whether they will continue to take the drug, with its potential benefits. Patients should also be warned that different, or additional drugs may be needed depending on the specific epilepsy syndrome and their initial response to treatment. Well-informed patients and families are more likely to use their drugs with discretion and obtain the benefits which modern drugs can offer.