- Speak up
- Ask questions
- Find the facts
- Evaluate the choices
- Read the label and follow directions
Speak up during your doctor appointments. It is important for the healthcare team to know your medical history along with the medicines and treatments used. If possible, you should prepare and provide a written list of your medications and treatments to your doctor. It is also a good idea to keep a copy for yourself. The list should include any prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements and vitamins, as well as any allergies or problems you have experienced with a particular medicine or ingredient. You should also include any issues that may affect your use of medicine, such as trouble swallowing or trouble remembering to take your meds or if you are currently pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Ask questions regarding your medications. Take notes on drug risks and usage during your doctor appointments or when picking up your prescription at your pharmacy. If you do not understand, always ask.
Find the facts about a prescription or over-the-counter drug by learning and understanding as much as possible. This may include brand or generic drug name, active/inactive ingredients, uses, side effects, directions or storage instructions, to name a few.
Evaluate your choices by weighing the benefits and risks you have learned about the medication. It is important to weigh the helpful effects versus the possible unwanted effects. Speak with your healthcare team when making these decisions.
Read the label and follow directions of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Before leaving the pharmacy with your prescription, double-check you have the correct medication, know the right dosage and know how to use it. When purchasing an over-the-counter medicine, read the label carefully. If you have questions or problems, contact your pharmacist or your doctor. Lastly, follow directions on the label and directions from your doctor and pharmacist to ensure you receive all the benefits while keeping risks low. Save the packing insert information, if available.
Managing your medications can be overwhelming, but it is possible. Practice SAFER, always talk to your doctor and pharmacist, and always play an active role in your own healthcare.
Greg Cobble, RPh, earned his pharmaceutical degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. He currently serves as the pharmacist-in-charge at QuickMeds Pharmacy® at Freeman Hospital West and Freeman Outpatient Pharmacy Coordinator.