You Can Take Control of Your Medicine and Your Health
Healthcare and Medicine Consumers Deserve Good Information
You want to be informed about your medical treatment. People are searching for information on drugs everywhere from newspapers to the Internet. The barrier that most of them face is that there is a lot of bad information in the marketplace. It is not clinically accurate, is not translated into language that can be easily understood, is incomplete or biased and is presented in circulars that can be very difficult for anyone to read.
Another barrier is that you do not know what type of services to expect from health professionals nor the questions to ask about your medications. People do not ask questions when they feel they don't know enough about the subject...in this case medications. This is an age-old problem and affects all of us. Some of us do not ask our insurance agents or stock brokers questions because we don't know what to ask. Many parents do not ask teachers questions about their child's education because they assume the teacher is a professional and "knows everything." This certainly does not mean consumers are stupid. You just need some guidance and background information so you are better informed.
Here are some guidelines that should help you be a better healthcare and medicine consumer:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, we are all consumers. The only way you can make informed decisions and use medicines safely is to know what information is important to get from healthcare professionals. You need to know how to work your medicine into your daily lifestyle, how to manage side effects, when to seek medical help and how to keep track of important information for the doctor and the pharmacist.
Ask your doctor why you need the medicine being prescribed and how it is going to help you. Be sure to discuss any concerns that you have about taking the medicine. You want to have all the information you need to help you decide whether or not you want to take it. If you do not want to take the medicine for any reason, discuss it with your doctor so that treatment that is more acceptable to you can be found and prescribed.
Ask your pharmacist if there is a Patient Package Insert for the medicine you are taking. Many companies are also posting the PPI on their websites for consumers to read.
The average person forgets 50 percent of what the doctors tells them by the time they arrive at the pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist to go over all the instructions again. If you would feel more comfortable speaking with the pharmacist in a private area, ask for it. More and more pharmacies have private counseling areas to ensure confidentiality and better learning. Ask the pharmacist to show you the actual medicine so and tell you which medicine is used to treat which symptoms.
Many people stop taking a medicine because they think they are allergic to it. Actually they may have had a minor side effect. Some allergic reactions can be very serious and require immediate medical treatment. If you have any questions about whether a symptom is an allergy or a side effect, always ask your doctor or pharmacist.
A prescription label that states "Take 1 tablet three times a day" does not give you enough information. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you determine the best times to take the medication so you can easily work the dosage schedule into your daily activities, meal times and work. You will find it easier to remember to take your medicine if it fits in with your normal lifestyle.
Tell your pharmacist if you have had any problems with any of your medicine since the last refill. Your pharmacist can often provide helpful advice and help you to decide if what you have been experiencing is serious, or not. If it is serious, he may be able to tell you how to get around it; or if warranted, that you should contact your physician before taking any more, etc.
If there are any questions please write them in the comments section, or email me at Pharmacist.firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Diamond R.Ph
Center for Drug and Health Information
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