See More Testimonials
"Michael Abelson is a very experienced litigator. I've personally worked with him on several cases and have been impressed with his skills. I highly recommend him."Joseph Abromovitz Esq., Boston, MA
Understanding Your Prescriptions
According information from the Centers for Disease Control, 47.9 percent of the population uses at least one prescription drug a month and 10.5 percent of the population regularly takes five or more prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are everywhere, and they are intended to treat a huge variety of different ailments, chronic conditions and temporary medical problems. Information about prescription drugs can also be found everywhere, from pharmacies and doctors’ offices to magazines, websites, newspapers, radios and television ads.
Unfortunately, with so many prescription drugs and so much information available, it can be confusing to understand exactly what drugs you’ve been prescribed and what you are taking. It can also be difficult figure out exactly what the risks of your prescriptions are, despite the warning labels. Not fully understanding the prescription drugs that you are taking can cause problems, including:
- Long stays in hospitals
- An increase in trips to the doctor or to the hospital
- Higher medical care costs
- More prescriptions.
By taking the right steps, you can become better informed about your prescriptions and you can make sure they do you good instead of harm.
Discussing Drugs with Your Doctor
When talking to your doctor:
- Tell your physician about all of the medications that you are currently on and about all of the medications that you have been on in the past. Letting your doctor know about your drug history can help to avoid adverse drug interactions. It is also important to remind your doctor about any drug allergies that you may have whenever he or she prescribes anything.
- Discuss any non-prescription drugs, vitamins or supplements you are taking with your doctor. Over-the-counter drugs, herbs and vitamins can potentially lead to drug reactions that could be dangerous or that could impede the effectiveness of medications.
- Ask your doctor the name of any drug you are being prescribed. You can also feel free to ask your doctor why he or she has chosen that particular drug and what your alternatives might be.
- Inquire about side effects or risks of any medications that your doctor prescribes.
- If you are prescribed a medication, ask what its use is, when you should expect it to begin working and how long you might need to take the drug.
- Find out if you are supposed to take the drug with food or drink.
- Ask if there is any written information available about the medication being prescribed. If so, you have a right to request the information.
Talking to Your Pharmacist
Your pharmacist also plays an important role in ensuring the safety of your medications. When talking with your pharmacist:
- Ask about the medications you are being prescribed or that you are taking. You can write down the answers or even bring a friend or relative with you so that you can better remember what the pharmacist said.
- Confirm that you have received the correct prescription. If the bottle or medication seems different from what you were expecting, be sure to double check and make sure it is the correct drug. Typically, patients are the first to realize when their prescription has not been filled correctly, and they are often tipped off because the pills are different in shape, size or color from the ones they had taken previously.
- Inquire about how to correctly use the medication. There should be instructions on the label and even accompanying information that you get along with the drug. Read the instructions at the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to clarify anything you do not understand.
- Ask about potential side effects of the medication. You should also find out what side effects are normal and when they are likely to go away. If there are any unexpected or abnormal side effects from the medication, you should call your doctor immediately.
- Be sure to ask about whether it is possible to crush or split the medication if this is something you are planning on doing. Some people split pills as a cost-saving measure (their doctor prescribes a double dose since one higher-dose pill is cheaper than two of a lower dose). Others split or crush pills because swallowing them is difficult. However, not all medications can be split or crushed, and some should be swallowed whole. Your pharmacist can let you know if that is the case with your drugs.
It is always a good idea to fill all of your prescriptions at the same pharmacy. When you do this, the pharmacist can better help to watch for drugs that would interact badly. Both your pharmacist and your doctor should be people you can trust and people with whom you feel comfortable discussing your medical history and condition/symptoms.