In todays hustle and bustle that has become the healthcare system, you might ask yourself why do I need to ask my providers medication questions.They barely have time to say hello, listen to my primary visit concerns, diagnose the problem and write a prescription or discuss other methods they feel will resolve the issue.

My answer to that: WHY NOT? As the patient, you have a right to decide what will be the resulting health outcomes of your doctor visits.

So resolve right now to be a more active participant in your care; arm yourself with questions for your provider each time they issue you a prescription.

This Spotlight begins a series about why to ask, conversation starters and specific questions to have answered about each medication.

Asking medical questions can improve your care…and health outcomes!

How many times have you returned home from a doctor visit with a prescription, and realized you still have unanswered questions? Potential side effects? The correct dose? Drug interactions with my current medications? Have you felt too embarrassed—or too rushed—to clarify drug information or instructions with your provider?

If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone. Nearly half of Americans take a prescription medicine, and more than 20 percent of patients take at least three. However, according to a recent NCPIE study, most people (60 percent) are not fully aware of the risks associated with the medicines they take.  Communication with your healthcare team—physicians, nurses, pharmacists and/or medical assistants—about your medications is critical. Yet, too few patients speak up, or even know the right questions to ask.

Questions provide critical answers. Your health depends on good communication.

“Quality healthcare is a team effort. You play an important role. The primary way to communicate with your doctor and healthcare team is by asking questions. Your doctor wants your questions. Doctors know a lot about a lot of things, but they don’t know about your concerns, or what is best for you. Questions give your doctor and healthcare team important personal information about you, such as your most important healthcare concerns. That is why they need you to speak up. Asking questions…can improve your care.”—Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

You are a key player on your medicine education team. Be proactive; ask medical and health questions!. Seek clarity and get the information you want and need.

Here are 4 tips to guide your conversation with your healthcare provider: Providing information in these areas will create solid communication with your provider and health team and lead to more positive health care outcomes.

  •  Ask questions about the benefits and potential risks of prescription medicines you take.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take—include OTC, vitamins, supplements and prescriptions.
  • Inform your healthcare provider about any allergies/sensitivities
  •  Read and follow directions/information on prescription labels ask questions if you need clarification label information

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