Managing a child’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex process. From a parent’s perspective, it may be frustrating when a pediatrician cannot refill a prescription without an office visit or immediately when a prescription is out. From a pediatrician's perspective, there are many factors that have to be considered when prescribing and refilling stimulants. Dr. Methuel Gordon, Pediatrician at Palouse Pediatrics, shares what he wants parents to know about ADHD medication and the prescription process.
Medication is just a piece of the puzzle
It’s important to understand that ADHD medication by itself is not a perfect solution or a one-size-fits-all remedy. “Medication management, counseling coupled with the need for adjustments in the child’s school environment (like Individualized Education or 504 plans) are all necessary to the overall success of a child struggling with ADHD,” says Dr. Gordon. “We take all this information into consideration with every child being managed for ADHD and evaluate these areas to see how well we are serving each child.”
Finding the right medication regimen may take multiple approaches, meaning your child may have several follow-up visits or telemedicine appointments with their pediatrician. While this can seem inconvenient or repetitive, it’s essential to ensure the safety of the patient, as well as the effectiveness of the medication.
Why do I need to visit the office to refill a prescription?
Some prescriptions require more frequent office visits than others. Dr. Gordon says that there are different factors that determine how often a patient needs to be seen by their provider; these factors include “how well the patient is responding to the medication, tolerating potential side effects, and how they are adhering to the medication,” says Dr. Gordon. Because ADHD medications are stimulants and have potential side effects such as weight loss, they often require more office visits (or telemedicine evaluations) than other prescriptions. “This typically happens every 3 months for children doing well on stable doses or monthly for children trying to find a stable regimen.”
While physician management is needed for any prescribed medication, “ADHD medications especially will require more physician oversight to ensure they are being used properly and as instructed to ensure the child is being adequately served and cared for while on the medication(s),” summarizes Dr. Gordon.
Supervision is key
Dr. Gordon adds that it’s incredibly important for parents to supervise younger children to ensure that they are taking their ADHD medication (and any medication) as instructed, as well as monitor when the supply is dwindling and it is time to refill.
“Calling when there are at least 5 days of medication remaining is ideal,” says Dr. Gordon. This allows ample time for the office staff to relay the refill request to the prescribing doctor to ensure the medication is refilled in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary gaps in the child receiving the medication. “Calling the day the medication is out does not guarantee the medication can be filled the same day,” he cautions.
Palouse Pediatrics has offices in Moscow and Pullman. You can find out more information about Dr. Gordon, the services Palouse Pediatrics provides, and location online at pullmanregional.org/palouse-pediatrics or by calling (509) 332-2605 (Pullman office) or (208) 882-2247 (Moscow office).
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