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Medication Checklist: Questions to ask your doctor about Medicine
     by Sherry Messick

Over the years I've spent time on very toxic drugs and I've always had questions regarding them. I have a checklist that has helped me be the most informed on the drugs I was taking as possible.

If you are currently taking medications, or your clinician has recommended that you take them, there are some important questions you can ask to be a well-informed consumer.

In order to make informed decisions about your health and medical care, it important that you be able to weigh the benefits, risks and costs of medications, as well as treatment alternatives.

You may find the following checklist helpful. Print it out. Call or visit your practitioner. And start getting the answers to some very important questions.

1. What is the name of the medication?
2. Is this the brand name or the generic name? If a brand-name, can it be safely substituted with a generic brand?

3. Why is the medication being prescribed or recommended? For relief of symptoms? If so, which symptoms? For cure of a medical problem? If so, which problem?

4. If the medication is recommended for cure of a problem, is it medically necessary for the cure? Will the problem subside or go away without medication?

5. Is there an over-the-counter alternative for the medication?

6. For how long should you "stay on" the medication? The duration of the prescription? For how many days? Weeks? Years?

7. Does your physician or the pharmacist have any written information about the medication?

8. Have you ever had a reaction to this type of medication or to other drugs?

9. What is the dosage of the medication? ___ mg ___ cc

10. What is recommended frequency of dosage? Once a day? Four times a day? If more than once a day, is it important that the time between doses be approximately equal? (For example, for doses of four or more times
a day, will you need to wake yourself up to take a dose, or can you wait until morning?)

11. When should the medication be taken? Before meals? During meals? After meals? In the morning? Before bedtime?

12. How should the medication be taken? With how much and what kinds of fluid? On an empty stomach? On a full stomach?

13. What should you do if you miss a dosage? Should you double-up on the next dosage? Should you take it right away? Should you stay on your recommended schedule or should you space your dosages over a certain number of hours?

14. What should you do if you feel better or your symptoms go away, and you still have medication left?

15. Are there any foods or activities that should be avoided while using the medication? Other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) Alcohol? Certain foods? Driving or operating machinery?

16. What should you do if you are taking other prescribed or over-the-counter medications?

17. What should you do when the prescription expires?

18. How long has the medication been "on the market?"

19. What are the short- and long-term risks associated with the medication? Can use of the medication cause other health problems? Can use of the medication increase your chances of incurring another health problem? If so, what is the likelihood that these problems may occur? What effects, if any, will the medication cause on other medications you are currently taking or plan to take? If there are some, should the dosage of either medication be adjusted? Do the benefits of using the medication outweigh the risks associated with its use? Are there less-risky alternatives?

20. What should you do if you experience any of the side effects?

21. What are the less-common side effects associated with the medication? What should you do if you experience any of these side effects?

22. How much does the medicine cost?

23. Is there a less-expensive alternative or brand?

24. Will your insurance cover the cost of the medicine?

25. Will your insurance require you to purchase or obtain the medicine from a specific vendor or company

I hope this helps.
Sherry Messick, Surviving Scleroderma

President, USF Southern Maryland Chapter
United Scleroderma Foundation,  Fighting for our cause or Phone at 1-800-722-HOPE

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