The word "noncompliant" is what medical doctors use to describe a patient who does not take their medications or follow the instructions given by the doctor. The patient's file is flagged as noncompliant and they are looked at and treated like they are a trouble maker. This label can really stick with the patient and follow them. It is over generalizing without studying or knowing the reasons behind the lack of adherence to the recommendations made by the doctor. Sometimes it is not as cut and dry as if they took the medication or not. Because many times there are circumstances that come in to play for an individual that makes following the instructions not an acceptable or fair choice.
Dr. John Steiner, is a researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. He gives an example of a 67 year old man who has diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. He tabulated what it would be like to have to adhere to all the medications and recommendations that come with those diagnoses. You would have to be able to get and take 5 different prescriptions. Some may be covered by insurance and some may not. The patient would be expected to change his diet for every meal by cutting way back on salt and fat, exercise three to four times per week, get blood work tests done before each doctor appointment, check blood sugar levels, get flu shots and take the medications every day. When you add this all up this is 3,000 behavior changes in a patient's life every year. Maybe this example can help illustrate how difficult it could be to follow all of the doctor's recommendations.
It is the advice of Dr. Steiner that doctors should be compassionate and understand how complicated it can be for patients. He states that it would be far more reasonable to be realistic and prioritizes the medical measures that are the most important. For example a taxi driver who is is on the road all day, may have a hard time with a water pill, just as it may be impossible for a homeless person to have a low-salt diet. Labeling a person as noncompliant because of reasons like this is a problem.