ePocrates

ePocrates: iOS/Android/Blackberry; Drug reference is free, but requires creating an account

www.epocrates.com/mobile

ePocrates may be an app with which many of you are already familiar, and one that’s been a commonly used reference for me for many years. Its primary function is as a drug reference, although it has a number of other associated tools such as dosage calculators, medical reference tables, and many other things that I’m not trained or qualified to use.

Some of you may be stopping to wonder why I’m starting with a drug app. The short version (and an interesting discussion to me) is that I believe that medications are becoming so much more important in mental health treatment that our clients are very poorly served if we do not have a basic awareness of psychopharmacological treatment. Since we as therapists often have more consistent interactions with a client than their prescribing physician, we at minimum need to be aware of what questions to ask about side effects, how to determine whether the medications are helping their psychological symptoms, and so on. I agree with (probably) most readers that medications can be overprescribed and poorly managed. However, we will gain our clients nothing if we keep our heads in the sand [steps off soapbox].

ePocrates has become something of a standard in the medical community; I personally have used it as a reference for at least ten years and I understand that it is required in some medical schools. It covers all drugs, including available psychopharmacological drugs. You can look up a drug by class, but you will probably usually be looking it up by name when you are presented with an unfamiliar name. The app itself is easy to use on any mobile operating system. The menus are pretty easy to navigate, offering information about common dosage levels for adults and children, side effects to watch for, and basic pharmacology information such as metabolism, half-life, and (when available) mechanism of action.At the end of an entry are pictures of the medicine. It also has a pill ID tool where you put in some descriptives and it attempts to tell you what the medicine is. In my experience, this feature has been kind of hit and miss.

ePocrates is an easy to use app that has more information than will be needed by most therapists. I will often refer to it if my client mentions that they have been started on a medication, or if I hear that from their prescribing doctor.

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