In previous articles on the website, I attempted to provide specific questions to ask your health care providers regarding your medication therapy. Below is a checklist to use to begin this dialogue, and provide an efficient flow of information between you and your healthcare team.
Jump-start a healthy, helpful conversation with your healthcare provider
It is hoped that the tips below will assist you in having effective and impactful discussions with your health care team about your medicines. They can be applied during physical examinations, annual check-ups sick visits.
Develop, share and discuss an up-to-date list:
The list should contain all prescriptions, vitamins, herbals and dietary supplements you are taking. Write down the medicine names and dosage strength. Create a list for each family member, and make sure your spouse and adult children when appropriate, can access the list for urgent care or emergency hospital visits. Ask your pharmacist to help you put this information together before visiting your providers.
• Ask your healthcare provider to review your prescription medication list periodically and evaluate if it is necessary for you to continue taking all of them. Discuss if any adjustments in the therapy need to be done.
• Tell your health team if you are, or maybe, pregnant or nursing.
• Share information about whether you or a family member:
◦ is allergic to certain medicines or foods
◦ have any other medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or kidney or liver disease
◦ take other prescription or OTC medicines regularly
◦ follow a special diet or take dietary supplements
◦ use alcohol or tobacco regularly
• Advise your healthcare team before you or another family member takes OTC medicine for the first time, especially if it will be combined with another prescription medicine.
• Contact your healthcare provider and pharmacist if new or unexpected symptoms or other problems appear.
• Never stop taking medicine the doctor has told you (or your children) to finish because symptoms disappear, or you feel better
• Get expert advice from a pharmacist before crushing or splitting tablets; some should only be swallowed whole.
• When your doctor or nurse practitioner writes a prescription by hand, make sure you can read it. Ask he or she to indicate what the medicine is used for. For example, writing “take once daily for high blood pressure,” not just “take once daily.”See if he or she uses e-prescribing, that electronically sends the prescription to the pharmacy from their office. This will increase legibility and improve the prescribing process.
Keep these basic principles in mind before entering the exam room.
They will serve as guidelines for beginning discussions with your providers, and contribute to you being an active participant in your medication therapy management decisions.