Have you asked your Pharmacist these 8 important questions? Maybe it’s time you should!
As new medications are developed and therapy regimens become more complex, the chances of taking your prescription incorrectly significantly increases. Pharmacists are often an untapped resource when it comes to keeping patients safe while on multiple drug therapies.
Shockingly, 50% of patients put their health at risk through improper dosing and not recognizing serious side effects that require medical attention. Patients not remembering if they took their medications is the #1 reason for adverse events and unnecessary hospitalizations related to double dosing or missing valuable drug therapy. An informative interview with specialty coordinator, Abby Carpenter, RPh, CSP from Pharmacy Advantage revealed 8 questions that every patient should ask their pharmacist today!
#1 What is the name of my medication and what is it prescribed for?
A: If you see several doctors for various conditions or find yourself in an emergency situation, knowing as much information about your medications and your diagnosis is crucial. Making it a habit to keep a list of your medications in your wallet will drastically lower any risk of drug interactions and assists medical staff to more accurately treat your core health issue in urgent times.
#2 How should I take my medication? Should I take it in the morning, afternoon, or night? Should I take with food or on an empty stomach?
A: There are multiple ways medications can be taken such as by mouth, injection, inhaled or applied topically. Following the doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions on how and what time will help reduce side effects, avoid interactions, and help with adherence. For example, some prescriptions may cause drowsiness which make more sense to take at night. Another influence to ask about is if your medications work best if taken on an empty stomach or with food Sometimes medicines can irritate the stomach and taking them with food will reduce chances of indigestion, inflammation or ulcers.
#3 What should I do if I miss a dose?
A: For best outcomes, taking medication routinely and on time is advised. However, if a patient misses a dose, he/she is advised to take it as soon as possible. If it is too close to the next scheduled dose, the patient must call the physician or pharmacist for further directions to avoid taking a doubled amount.
#4 How long will I need to take this prescription? When should I discontinue this medicine?
A: Some medications must be taken for a short period of time and others could be continued lifelong. Medications should be taken as directed by the physician. Patients should not start or abruptly stop taking medication without discussing it with the physician or pharmacist as this can cause severe side effects.
#5 Is there anything I should avoid while on this therapy?
A: Some prescriptions can negatively interact with food, drinks, and other medications. Whether it be physical side effects like nausea and/or vomiting, chemical consequences like not allowing the drug to be absorbed by the body, or inadvertently causing overdose crisis. Talk to your pharmacist about what should be avoided while on the medication including certain physical activities like driving. Always inform the pharmacist about all medications you are taking for possible drug-drug interactions.
#6 What are the common side effects of this medication? What should I do if I start experiencing these side effects?
A: While all medications have side effects, some side effects are more pronounced than others and vary patient to patient. Common side effects include nausea, stomachache, or dizziness. Seek emergency care if you experience any allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, throat swelling, or hives.
#7 Is there a special way to store this prescription?
A: Each medication has specific storage instructions which can be found on the prescription label or package. Generally, most medications must be kept away from light and humid environments such as bathrooms with showers. Medications should be stored away from pets and children.
#8 Do you have any written information on my treatment that I can keep at home to learn more or refer back to for instructions?
A: Every medication will come with general information about your treatment in the package insert. Additionally, your physician or pharmacist may have more resources such as literature, videos, or web-based links for you to review upon request. Lastly, you can always reach out to either your physician or pharmacist when a specific question or concern isn’t addressed.