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Prescription Medicine (cont.)

Preparing for a Doctor's Appointment

Before going to see a health care practitioner, especially if it is for a first visit or if more than one practitioner is seen, make sure to write down the names, doses, and frequency of all current medications. Another way to do this is to put all of the currently used pill bottles in a bag and take them so the physician can record them. Do this for all prescription and OTC medications, and for vitamins and herbal supplements.

Make a list of any questions about medications before an office visit. Also take note of any new side effects or side effects that have worsened. Be ready to discuss how well medications are working with the health care practitioner.

What to Do at the Doctor's Office About Prescription Medications

  • Provide accurate medical information: It is very important that health care practitioners know as much as possible about the patient before he or she prescribes a medication. Provide the health care practitioner with the following information, make sure that the facts are recorded accurately in the medical chart.
    • Medications the person is currently taking: This should include OTC medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and prescription medications. It is important that each health care practitioner knows all the medications prescribed to the patient by other physicians. Do not count on the doctors or pharmacies filling the medication prescriptions to be able to discover all the drugs and supplements that each patient takes.
    • Past history of allergic or other reactions to medications: Even if a reaction seems minor to the patient, discuss reactions such as rashes, itching, nausea, dizziness, and other side effects with the health care practitioner.
    • Pregnancy: Let the health care practitioner know if the patient may be pregnant, is pregnant, or is trying to become pregnant, or if she is breastfeeding. Many medications will cross into the baby's blood during pregnancy or may pass into milk during breastfeeding. Some of these medications could be harmful to the baby.
  • Patients and caregivers should also ask questions and write down the answers. A lot of information is presented at a health care practitioner's visit. No one can remember all the instructions, so take notes. Some good questions to ask about prescription medications include:
    • What does it do? How well does it work and what should I expect?
    • When do I take it?
    • How do I take it (with food, for example)?
    • When do I stop taking it?
    • What are the more common side effects?
  • What are the serious side effects and how do I avoid them?
    • Will this interact with anything else I'm taking?
    • Will I get a generic equivalent of the drug prescribed?
  • Will this medication affect getting pregnant, the fetus, or pregnancy; and is it OK to take if I breastfeeding?
  • How do I store this medication?
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2016

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