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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

I've written about this before, but it's important enough for a revisit after all these years. For patients that take prescription medicines, the average number taken is four. Thirty-six percent of older patients take 5 or more prescription meds. This is why for me, the doctor, I question patients at every visit about their medications. I don't want to miss one that might be prescribed by another physician. The interactions could be deadly.

Every time a new medicine is prescribed by a physician, it's important for you to know how it fits into your overall treatment plan. These are the questions to ask:

  • What is the name of the medication and what is it for?

  • How and when should I take this medication?

  • Are there any specific instructions I need to follow about food or drink?

  • What are side effects that I should look out for?

  • How long will it take to start working?

  • How long will I be taking it?

  • What should I do if I miss a dose?

  • Are there any alternatives to this medication that we could consider?

Every state allows pharmacists to substitute generics unless the doctor specifies to use a name brand. This is fine and generally will save you money. But there are many medications that do not have a generic type and the cost or even co-pay can be huge even if you have pharmacy benefits. If you find a medication is unaffordable please talk with your doctor about it as there might be an alternative. More than 1/3 of Americans say they did not fill a prescription because of cost.

Make sure you understand your medication and especially how long you will be taking it. It is especially important if you are in the hospital and are discharged on new medications. Blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid, statins and other medications are often continued long-term. You doctor will appreciate your knowledge and asking the questions whenever a new medication is prescribed.


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