6 ways to stay safe with prescription medicine
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of U.S. Health and Human Services, more than 770,000 people are injured or die each year due to adverse reactions to prescription medicines.
Avoid becoming a part of this statistic by following these prescription medicine guidelines from AHRQ:
1. Ensure that your health care provider knows about all the medicine you're currently taking.
Talk to your physician, doctor or nurse practitioner to make sure they're well aware of the medicines, both prescription and over the counter, you're actively taking, as well as any supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
2. Take your current prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine and supplements with you to the doctor's office.
If you take multiple medicines or supplements, packing them up and taking them to your next medical appointment may seem like a hassle, but it can help you and your health care provider determine if there are any problems such as negative drug interactions.
Having your medicine handy at the office visit can also help office staff keep your medical files current, which may lead to better health care.
3. Always advise your health care provider about allergies or bad reactions your body has to medicines.
Even if you've been visiting a particular health care provider for years, inform them about the negative side effects you've experienced, which can prevent you from using a medicine that can harm you or your health.
4. Make sure you can read your prescription.
Doctors are infamous for their illegible handwriting, but it's important to be able to discern exactly what the script calls for. If you can't read the handwriting, it's likely a pharmacist may not be able to, either. If you're unsure, ask the doctor or his staff to spell out exactly what the script calls for.
5. Ask the right questions to make sure you understand the medicine prescribed or recommended to you.
Knowing why you're taking a particular drug can be as important as taking it. Having the right information will also ensure you adhere to the correct regiment. Know the answers to these questions:
- What does this medicine do?
- How should I take it and how long to I need to continue?
- Which side effects are most common?
- Are there any known interactions with other medicines or supplements?
- Should I avoid certain foods, liquids or activities while I'm on this medicine?
6. When your prescription is filled, ask the pharmacist: Is this what my doctor prescribed?
Mistakes and substitution do occur, so take it upon yourself to double-check the order before you leave the pharmacy.
If you're ready to take more pro-active precautions to your prescription medicines, use this information on your next visit to your New York City tri-state area doctor.