Whether you have a minor infection, have been diagnosed with a lifelong medical condition, or are recovering in the hospital after a surgery, your doctor will prescribe you some kind of medication. Although doctors strive to prescribe the safest option, medical errors and adverse drug events (ADE) may occur suddenly and without warning. A majority of patients put their complete trust in the knowledge of medical professionals and when a medication is prescribed, little questions are asked based off the simple belief of “If it’s prescribed, it must be safe and what I need”.
According to Rex Baker, Indiana emergency room negligence lawyer, as a patient (whether in an emergency room, hospital, or doctor’s office setting) you have a right to appropriate medical care and to have a doctor present medical facts in a clear, understandable language along with any explanation of the risks of any prescribed medication. Sadly, some doctors fail to explain the possible risks or side effects of taking a prescription and patients don’t know what kinds of questions to ask or believe that they are fully informed. As a patient, for your own safety and health, should take initiative and be as informed as possible. Here are some tips:
Provide Up-to-Date Information
Anytime you have a medical appointment, whether at the doctor’s office or the dentist, make sure your files are up-to-date with any medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you may be taking at the time of your visit. Even that daily aspirin or multi-vitamin can contribute to an ADE if you are prescribed a medication. Additionally, your pharmacy should also have an up-to-date file on the medications you take, as pharmacists are the most knowledgeable when it comes to prescription drugs and any other over-the-counter or herbal supplement.
When prescribed a medication, there’s no such thing as too many questions. Ask all and any questions you may have until you leave feeling confident and informed. While your doctor should be able to provide you with the right answers to your medication questions, it never hurts to double check with the pharmacist. Here are some important questions to ask:
- What is this medication for and how long do I need to take it?
- What’s the best way to take the medication? (i.e. with food, in tablet form, liquid, as needed)
- What kind of side effects can I anticipate? When should I seek medical attention?
Note: Side effects are reactions to a drug that medical professionals are aware of and may anticipate, such as headache or nausea, and typically doesn’t need to be treated. An ADE is harmful reaction, typically not anticipated, and should be treated by a medical professional immediately.
- Are there risks of drug interactions? How to I proceed when an interaction occurs?
Keep All Documents
When you receive a prescription medication, hold on to any notes you took at your appointment and keep track of any information your doctor or pharmacists gives you. The more you know, the less likely you will make a medication error or have an ADE. However, if you do, you may be more likely to take action and seek the lifesaving help you need. Prescriptions can be confusing, but with the proper documents you can read and understand your prescription medication more easily.