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Understanding Your Drug Prescription

By on March 25, 2015

If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, make sure you’ve told him or her about any other medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

You also need to talk about any allergies you have or any side effects you’ve had with other drugs.When you get a new prescription, make sure you understand what your doctor is prescribing, why you need to take it, and how often you should take it.

When your doctor prescribes a new medication, find out:

  • The name of the medication and what it’s supposed to do for you.
  • If it’s okay to substitute a less-expensive generic brand for the name brand drug.
  • What the dose is and if you should avoid any other medicines, drinks, or food while you’re taking it.
  • How many refills you should get.
  • What you should do it you miss a dose or if you take too much of it.

When you pick up your prescription, ask the pharmacist:

  • If the drug is what your doctor ordered.
  • If an information sheet is available on the medication that explains possible side effects.
  • What the medicine label means. If the label says you need to take it three times a day, ask if that means you should take it every 8 hours or if you should take it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • How you should measure the medication if it’s a liquid.

You should schedule a followup visit with your doctor to track your progress. If you’ve gotten any new prescriptions from other doctors or have started taking new over-the-counter medications, be sure to let your doctor know during your office visit.


This article is courtesy of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.