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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: doctor refusing to tell patient purpose of medication?

 jgp1114 - Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:11 pm

My mother's psychiatrist diagnosed her with Bipolar disorder approx 20 years ago; however he has never told her her diagnoses. He told my father recently and told him that she can't know because it will upset her too much. She gets very upset when anyone tells her she needs help and insists that she is "not crazy" and will often use her psychiatrist as a defense saying that even he says nothing is really wrong with her. He has prescribed her seroquel which he gets her to take by telling her it will help her sleep/calm her down when she is upset, but she does not take as prescribed or with regularity. He recently prescribed her abilify and invega telling her also that they were sleeping pills but she took them and they kept her up all night; so she is not taking them anymore.

My question is, in 2 weeks my mom and I will be seeing her psychiatrist together to talk about our troubled relationship. Is it okay for me to ask him why he is not telling her the true uses of the drugs he is prescribing? Is that common practice with Bipolar patients? At this point, at the age of 65 and after 20 years of not really being medicated/treated, is it too late for her to find out and possibly find a treatment that is effective? It is only getting worse for her and it is sad for me to think that there is no relief.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:07 pm

Hello jgp1114,

I am sorry to hear about your mother's unfortunate situation. It's not usual practice to neither inform a patient of a diagnosis nor to provide full information about medications that are prescribed. However, your father and the psychiatrist have apparently agreed on this approach. Rather than mentioning this in front of your mother, it would be a good idea to ask to speak with the psychiatrist alone, even in a separate appointment. Addressing such an issue in a more open forum could create defensiveness in all parties involved, and would not help achieve the open communication that you hope for. It may be helpful for you to seek supportive services for yourself, to help you deal with these problems and to identify approaches that would be comfortable to you. To find out the accepted standards in your area, contact your local medical board for information and assistance. I hope this is helpful to you, and I wish you good luck.

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