April 08, 2008

"So I'm taking these yellow pills..."

For some reason, I thought that doctors knew how to identify pills. On top of memorizing those complicationed jumbles of nonsensical consonants that pass as "names", the mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, drug interactions, side effect profile... doesn't it make sense?

I soon found out in med school that's not necessarily the case. Docs don't get hands-on with the pills. They write a prescription and the pharmacist fills it. I haven't taken very medications so... I'm not even sure I could tell the difference between Tylenol and Aspirin. Pharm-techs probably could ID the pills based on a description, but tell the MD "I'm taking something for my blood pressure. I don't remember the name, but it's a yellow pill..." you'll get a blank stare.

Surely there's some sort of resource out there for swift ID!

After a split-second search on Google, I found the "Pill Identification Wizard" over at drugs.com. It has an extensive US based formulary with pictures of various medications after you fill out a short description. Here's a sample, based on the only medication I've ever taken:

This is a service I'll definitely utilize in the future. It would be even more fantastic if you could snap a picture of it (on your cell phone, for example) and get a list of possible meds from that.

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