05 November 2010

Do You Check Your Prescriptions?

This article in Diabetes in Control points out how we as patients can miss important things about our prescriptions. Some can be harmless, but the majority can potentially create life-threatening situations. Even pharmacists and doctors must be careful and the pharmacist writing the article sounds a timely warning for everyone.

What to do when talking to the doctor and he is telling you about the prescription or hands you the prescription:
  • Tune him in and pay close attention, 
  • Ask what the dosage is and how often to take, 
  • Ask when the best time to take the medication, 
  • Ask if this will this be a generic or a brand name only, 
  • Ask what the side effects could be, 
  • Ask if there will be medication conflicts if you take other medications.
When you get to the pharmacy, shut the cell phone off and put your thinking cap on. Ask the pharmacist to explain the medication to you if it is the first time. Ask the same questions of the pharmacist that you asked the doctor. Check the dosage and that it agrees with what the doctor said. If this is a refill ask to see the bottle or vial to make sure that the pill size, shape, and color is the same as before. Most good pharmacists will point this out normally by telling you that they have changed suppliers or that the company has changed the color or pill shape.

Learn what the state law is for prescriptions in your state. My state requires by law that pharmacists explain prescriptions to you. As such I do check all medications for changes. Since I receive some of mine via mail from a centralized Veterans Administration Pharmacy, I check them immediately upon opening the package. There is always an information sheet for each medication. I must be more careful with medications received by mail as you must also.

The next is a warning to everyone.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST DAY PILL IS GONE TO REFILL A PRESCRIPTION.  Normally, Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies will allow refilling a prescription up to seven days before medication runs out. Find out from the pharmacist if they know how your insurance treats this, or be prepared to call your insurance company. I also urge that you not use the drive through windows for filling prescriptions. This leaves too much room for further mistakes. I realize the drive-thru windows are popular in many areas, but refrain from using them. Your health is more important!

Please take time to read the article as it also provides some excellent suggestions.

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