Questions to Ask the Doctor About Medications

Medications can be expensive, confusing to use,. and have undesirable side effects. Make sure to ask questions when medicines are prescribed and prescriptions are filled.

  • Give the doctor a list of all medications the person in your care is now taking including eye drops and vitamin supplements.
  • Tell the doctor of any other therapies; sometimes combinations may be deadly or may keep the new therapy from working.
  • Tell the doctor of any allergies or food sensitivities the person may have.
  • Understand why each medication is needed and how much will it help the person's condition.
  • Ask if it is possible to relieve pain almost completely, then seek the medicine that is the most effective.
  • Ask how long the drug takes to work.
  • Find out its side effects.
  • Ask if the drug could react with other drugs and what you should do if side effects occur.
  • Find out if other approaches could be used (changes in diet, exercise, stress reduction techniques, etc.).
  • For a confused elderly person, ask for medicines that can be taken easily.
  • If many medicines are needed, ask the doctor to prescribe them so they can be taken at the same times each day. If a drug must be taken at a difficult time (e.g., in the middle of the night), ask about another choice.
    * Try to find the lowest cost alternative. Ask if a generic drug or another brand within the same drug class is available at a lower cost.
  • Be sure that the generic drug will not have an adverse effect on the person's condition.
  • Ask if a lower dose can be prescribed without adverse effects.
  • To keep costs down, ask if a higher dose can be safely \ prescribed and the pill cut in half.
  • Ask if you can buy just a one-week supply of a new medication until you know if the patient can tolerate any possible side effects.

Questions to Ask the Pharmacist

When caring for a Medicare patient, ask about the government's maximum allowable charge for a particular drug.

  • Ask what over-the-counter drugs the pharmacist recommends for the person's condition (it may be necessary to take more of the drug if it is over the counter.)
  • Ask if the HMO plan will pay for the drug the doctor ordered.
  • Ask if the personal doctor will be called to approve the switch to another drug.
  • Find out the generic substitute for the prescription drug.
  • Ask if the generic substitute can cause adverse side effects and when the doctor should be contacted about them.
  • Ask if the multiple drugs prescribed can cause potential toxic drug interactions.
  • Ask if the pharmacy has a computer which will alert the pharmacist about drugs-interaction side effects before the prescription is filled.
  • Find out the risks of not taking the medicine.
  • Find out the risks of not finishing the prescription.
  • If you are caring for someone who will be taking several medications of his own , seek out a pharmacy that will do simplified packing.
  • Ask if the medicine can be put in an easy-open, large-size container with a label in large print.
  • Ask if an overdose of the medicine is dangerous for children or a confused elderly person.
  • Ask if the person can smoke or drink alcohol with the medication.
  • Ask if the medicine must be taken with a meal, with water or milk, etc.
  • Ask if the person can drive while on the medicine.
  • When the person needs many expensive drugs, find out if you can get a discount or work out a payment plan.

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