Information On Reasons & Drug Level Monitoring Procedure

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Drug Level Monitoring?

Drug level monitoring, also referred to as therapeutic drug monitoring, is a process wherein the levels of certain medicinal drugs in the bloodstream is measured at regular intervals.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

Drug therapy monitoring is conducted to maintain the right concentration of the medication in the blood system. This is crucial in case of medication with a narrow therapeutic range; this implies that there is a very small margin between being an effective therapy versus resulting in a case of under or overdosing. Therapeutic monitoring isnt required for many medicines as most drugs tend to have sufficiently large therapeutic ranges.

In case of medication with narrow therapeutic ranges it is crucial to maintain an exact dosage. However this isnt as easy as it sounds: a number of these drugs that are meant to be taken through a persons lifespan. This means having to factor in the physical and mental growth an individual goes through. It also has to cue in each individuals rate of metabolism, absorption and elimination, processes factors based on an individuals age, genetic code and general state of physical and mental health.

As changes occurs therapeutic drug monitoring has to adapt and follow. Examples of medication that count as therapeutic drug requiring monitoring include antiepileptic, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anti-cancer meds, and immunosuppressant drugs.

How Is it Conducted?

For patients starting out on a monitored drug, establishing the ideal dosages and monitoring drug levels takes a considerable effort from both the doctors and patients. This is a process of trial and error till a steady level is reached. At the start of the treatment the doctor will start out on a dose, wait for a short period to stabilize and then monitor its effect on the body, and adjust the dosages accordingly. This process goes on till the exact right dosage is established.

Patients need to be diligent and punctual with testing and monitoring. In case of changed or disturbing symptoms, inform the doctor immediately. It is important to stick to the recommended medication routine. It is also important to time the blood test appropriately – patients need to be careful of not heading for a blood test right after taking a dose or if theyve missed on one or more doses; these factors can greatly impact result readings. Therefore, it is essential to follow these guidelines, as they determine the accuracy of the blood test, and help establish a steady and effective dosage.