As a patient or caregiver, it is expected of us to have and ask all the questions regarding our health, medications and follow ups for our loved ones and ourselves. But this is not the case. Going to the doctor’s office or the pharmacy should require some level of preparation to ensure that all questions or concerns are covered. Many patients or caregivers may not know what to ask and this leads to an unproductive visit for the patient.

According to a recent study published by Annals of Internal Medicine, article titled  “Interventions to Improve Adherence to Self-administered Medications for Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Systematic Review” the cost of American not taking their medication appropriately is costing us anywhere between $100 billion to $289 billion a year. In some 20 to 30 percent of the cases, prescriptions for medication are never filled. Up to 50 percent of medications aren’t taken as prescribed. Failure to follow prescriptions orders cause about 125,000 deaths a year and up to 10 percent of all hospitalizations. Among several recommendations provided by the authors:

  • The use case management and coordinated care more effectively: Appointing a pharmacist, doctor, nurse or other health professional to oversee a patient’s care increased medication adherence among patients with hypertension, heart failure, depression and asthma on a system level.

On an individual level,  patients and caregivers needs to take an active role in their health and medication management role by doing simple things before leaving their doctor’s office and after leaving their pharmacists from the pharmacy - Ask the following 10 questions before starting that new medication.

  1. What is this medication used for and how is it going to help me?
  2. What is the brand name and generic name?
  3. How should I take this medication? For how long?
  4. When should I take it? What time of day, before or after meals?
  5. What side effects may occur? How can I tell these side effects? What do I do if they occur?
  6. What does this medication interact with? What medications, supplement, herbals, food, drink, activities should I avoid – and when?
  7. How long does it take for this medication to work? How will I know that it is working?
  8. What should I do when I miss a dose? What if I overdose?
  9. Are there any precautions I should take when I am on this medication?
  10. How should I store this medication?

Sources:

  1. Consumer health Information Corporation.
  2. Annals of Internal Medicine
  3. National Council on Patient Information and Education

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