Throughout medical school and residency, we are continuously taught how to be a good doctor. We are taught doctors should be professional, knowledgeable, well-read, and culturally competent (although I still don't know what this ridiculous concept means), all while nothing is expected from the patients.
That needs to change. Patients are as much of a part of their care as are doctors. This sounds obvious, yet you would not believe how uninterested, lazy, and ignorant many patients are. While doctors struggle to adhere to the intense scrutinies of professional requirements (and popular media) many patients do nothing but expect 5-star medical while they sit back and relax.
One thing in particular patients -- all patients -- need to do -- in fact, must do -- is to know their medications. Again, it sounds again obvious, but I am amazed by the number of patients that do not know the details of their medication list. Not just names, but exact dosages, frequencies, and dosing schedules.
It is not sufficient just to know the names of your medication -- although that would be a great start for some of my patients. It is not at all useful to us if you say "I take a little blue pill". Sorry you tool, we don't know what pills look like. We may prescribe pills, but we have no idea what color, shape, or size pills are. So enough of this "a little white pill", "that little square blue pill", or "a really big pill". Pharmacists don't even know that information.
"But doctor", you might say, "my memory isn't good". Or, "I take too many medications to memorize them all". Both are legitimate complaints, but you are not excused. If you cannot remember your med list for whatever reason, then write it down or type it out and -- this part is key -- carry it with you at all times. Yes, all times. You never know when you will have to go to the ER without warning, and have to report this list to your doctors. When your life -- or an improved version of it -- depends on medications, you better be damned sure you know everything about them.
There aren't many situations in this world that are the proverbial black or white; almost everything is grey in this world. Except this. So patients listen up, get involved in your own care, show some responsibility, and learn your meds!