If you are one of the millions of Americans who takes a prescription medicine, ask yourself: “Do I fully understand the benefits and potential risks of the medicines I’m taking?” If your response is “no,” you are not alone. Recent research developed by the National Council on Patient Information and Education data:
- 85% of healthcare professionals report that their patients adhere to their treatment plans, but only 56% of patients report high to very high adherence.
- Approximately 62% of patients and caregivers are not aware of any safety warnings about their medicines, and 10% of patients unaware of the possibility of a severe reaction or side effect of any of the medicines they are taking actually experience a serious drug reaction.i
This should come as no surprise. How many times have YOU walked out the doctor’s office and said to yourself, “I forgot to ask that question?” Here are four tips to guide your conversation with your healthcare provider to help ensure that you get all of your questions asked—even those that perhaps you hadn’t thought of!
- Talk to your healthcare provider and ask questions about the benefits and potential risks of prescription medicines you take.
- Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you are taking—including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and dietary supplements.
- Tell your healthcare provider about any allergies or sensitivities that you may have.
- Read and follow the medicine label and directions.
When you talk to your healthcare provider, the following questions can help you understand how your new medicine will affect you before you start taking it. It’s also helpful to keep and share an up-to-date list of all medicines you’re taking with your healthcare providers at every visit.
Questions to ask your Healthcare Provider
- What’s the name of the medicine, and what is it for?
- How and when do I take it, and for how long?
- What side effects should I expect, and what should I do about them?
- Should I take this medicine on an empty stomach or with food?
- Should I avoid any activities, foods, drinks, alcohol or other medicines while taking this prescription?
- If it’s a once-a-day dose, is it best to take it in the morning or evening?
- Will this medicine work safely with any other medicines I’m taking, including over- the-counter medicines?
- When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it’s working?
- How should I store this medicine?
- Is there any additional written information I should read about the medicine?
Remember—always follow up with your healthcare provider if you still have questions or concerns about your medicine.
i Ipsos Healthcare. “Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Concerning Risk and Safety Information of Medicines: A Survey of Consumers/Patients and HCPs in the U.S.” An Internal Report (supported by FDA CDER Grant number 5U18FD004653). 2013. Washington, DC.