In this episode, I’ll discuss how to answer a question like an experienced pharmacist, even if you’re brand new.
The ED physician calls you on the phone and asks “What is the half-life of methadone?” How should you answer this question?
This question is an example of an obscure question with no context.
Earlier in my career I would have likely given a quick answer to this question, moved on with my day, and thought nothing of it.
But what I’ve learned is that there is always a patient-specific story behind these types of seemingly random and out-of-the-blue questions that physicians pose.
So now I answer a question like this, with more questions:
Who is the patient?
Why are they here?
How much methadone did they take?
Or sometimes I just say “Tell me more about what’s going on” to prompt the physician to fill in the details.
By answering the methadone half-life question with more questions you will probably end up with something like:
I am taking care of a 23 year old male over in room 12. He was found in the parking lot in respiratory arrest. His friend says he took too much methadone. We gave him 4 mg IV of naloxone and he is now breathing normally. I am worried that the naloxone might wear off before the methadone is eliminated and the patient may go back into respiratory arrest. How should I dose naloxone going forward?
Now you’ve turned the obscure question about methadone half-life into the real question – how should naloxone be further dosed in this patient? And by doing so you can provide better information to help both the physician and patient.
To access my free download area with 20 different resources to help you in your practice, go to pharmacyjoe.com/free.
If you like this post, check out my book – A Pharmacist’s Guide to Inpatient Medical Emergencies: How to respond to code blue, rapid response calls, and other medical emergencies.