Realizing the importance your medication plays in your treatment will help you get the most benefit from your prescription. It is important to take an active role in your health care by being a participating member of your own health care team. Work with your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist to learn as much as possible about your prescription.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist when you are prescribed a new medication, and suggestions on how to safely manage medications at home.
1. Ask for the name of the medicine, including generic and brand name. This can help avoid prescription mistakes. When your doctor prescribes you a new medication, disclose the names of all the medicines you are currently taking, including all supplements, over-the-counter and prescription medications. State any allergies to any medication.
2. Ask for indications, exactly what is this medication prescribed for.
3. Ask for possible side effects and what to do in case of an adverse reaction.
4. Ask for dose and frequency to be taken.
5. How is the medication to be taken? The most common routes for medication’s administration are orally or by mouth, injection; or topically or locally applied such as creams or eye drops.
6. Are there special instructions while taking this medication such as foods, use of alcohol, other medicines; or activities you should avoid while taking this medicine? Ask about any specifics such as take with food, take on an empty stomach, do not crush or activities to avoid such as driving, use of machinery, swimming or exposure to sunlight.
Is there any written information you can take home? Most pharmacies have information sheets that you can use as an at-home reference.
If a doctor is prescribing a medication that is to be taken multiple times a day ask if it can be substituted for a prescription that is equally as effective but given only once or twice a day, thus reducing chance of forgetting to take the medication and even be more cost effective.
Ask if the medication is available in both generic and brand name, ask the pharmacist the difference between the two and decide based on that information. In many instances is more beneficial to request the generic name versus the brand name.
7. How many refills of the prescription are allowed? Some drugs and medication’s management plans have the option to purchase multiple refills at once, up to three months’ supply, for medications that are to be taken for a long-term or are part of the patient’s permanent treatment plan. Usually this system is more cost-effective for the customer.
Ask the doctor for samples, especially if it’s a medication that will be for short-term use, or if you are doing a trial.
8. What should you do if you miss a dose? What should you do if you accidentally take more than the recommended dose?
9. Ask for alternative’s prescription form that best suits you or your patient’s needs. If your child cannot swallow pills, request the medication on liquid form if available. The same applies for the elderlies or adult patient who has difficulty swallowing.
Do not change the form of any medication without speaking to your pharmacist. Some medications can be crushed, chopped and mixed with apple sauce or juice whereas some medicine is unsuitable in any other than the original form. Always ask before altering a medication’s form. Sustained release pills should not be crushed, and some capsules should not be opened.
During your treatment, you may want to schedule a follow-up visit with your physician in order to monitor your progress. Make sure to report any problems or side effects you are experiencing with your prescription.