The first question you should ask your physician is: Is this the right medication? This question will be one that you will continue to ask along the medical process. Most patients are unaware of the many complications that can occur in between your doctor writing a prescription and the pharmacy providing it for you. YOU will have to be the one to double check along the process that you were prescribed the right medication. You may be wondering: How do I go about doing just that? Great question!
The First Check – The Doctor’s Office
The National Library of Medicine reports that an average doctor’s appointment is 15.9 minutes. In that amount of time, doctors spend around 23 seconds talking about your prescription(s) with you. That’s not enough time to truly understand the medication you are being prescribed. Don’t feel rushed and take the time to ask some clarifying questions:
What is the name of the medicine?
Why do I need to take it?
Will this medication interact with my other prescriptions?
What side effects might I experience from this medication?
When and how should I take this medication?
You won’t be intrusive by asking clarifying questions. It’s important to have knowledge and confidence in the medication that you are taking.
If you are someone that speaks a different language than your provider, consider bringing or requesting a translator to be present at your appointment. You will want to make sure you can effectively let your provider know what your symptoms are so that you are prescribed the appropriate medication to treat your condition. Don’t let your language be a barrier to getting the appropriate care for your health.
The Second Check – The Pharmacy
Even if the doctor has prescribed the correct medication, the pharmacy could make a mistake when inputting or dispensing the prescription medication. The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) notes that the three most common dispensing errors are incorrect medication (dosage strength or dosage form) being dispensed; miscalculating a dose; and failing to identify drug interactions or contraindications. In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported receiving 100,000 prescription or medical errors.
Here’s some things to look for when you pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy:
Check the pills: If you are picking up a prescription that you’ve had for a while, check for normal size, color, identifiable numbers, and shape. If it looks different than what you have previously taken, speak with a pharmacist.
Check the label: The following are things to double check on your prescription label:
Name spelt correctly
Date of birth appears correct
Correct drug name
Correct drug dosage
Check that the doctor is correct
Make sure you understand the instructions and if you don’t, ask your pharmacist
Read the medication information sheet provided by your pharmacists: These sheets are important to have as a reference while taking the medication. It’s a great reminder of how and when to take your medication.
If you have a hard time hearing or seeing, ask the pharmacist or pharmacist assistant to help read off your medication. Don’t feel rushed when checking out because seeking clarity versus not seeking clarity could be the decision that will save your life.
The Third Check – Yourself
You have a vital role in making sure you are being prescribed and taking the correct medication. There are many complications that can occur when many people are handling your prescription.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with taking the time to seek clarity about your medication. Take control of your health today!
Tria Health Can Help
Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.
Contact the Tria Health Desk at 1.888.799.8742