What should I know about this drug?
Daniel Alton and Jamie Coleman discuss the key facts in part seven of the series
It's 2 30 am and you're the junior doctor on call. A nurse is muttering about a patient you've never heard of and asking you to write up a drug to control the patient's increasing pain. You wander sleepily down to the ward to see the patient in question to find that they've got a list of current drugs as long as your arm; liver and renal impairment; and a lengthy past medical history.
If the idea of this petrifies you, the other articles in this Student BMJ series covering elements of rational prescribing and prescribing in specific circumstances may be helpful. But once you have evaluated the cause of the patient's symptoms, have given a diagnosis that can be treated pharmacologically, and have considered non-drug options, you need to have specific knowledge about the drug(s) that you are going to consider prescribing.
The first useful thing to know is