Talk Medicines With Your Health Team

Medicines are valuable tools to help you and your family prevent and treat diseases and relieve symptoms. But they can cause harm if the wrong medicine is taken, or if you or a loved one takes too much or mixes certain medicines that don’t go together. So, it’s important to talk openly with your family’s health team to make sure everyone understands why certain medicines have been recommended.

Power of Communication

To keep your family healthy, you probably keep a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your healthcare providers at each visit. While you may be focused on recent symptoms and getting answers about why you or your loved ones feel under the weather, don’t forget to ask about medicines.

Remember: Talking about the medicines your family uses is just as important and good for everyone’s health as a complete check-up, a proper diagnosis, and actually taking the medicine as directed.

Below are some tips to help you talk about medicines with your family’s health team.

Share an up-to-date list of all the medicines, vitamins, herbals and dietary supplements each member of your family, including your children are already taking. Write down the medicine names and regimens (dose, time and other instructions), as well as any problems you or other family members  have with the medicine so that you are prepared to discuss these concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.
Ask the doctor or pharmacist to review the list of medicines periodically and reevaluate whether they are still all necessary.
Tell your health team if you are, or may be, pregnant or are nursing a baby.
Also be sure to share information about whether you or a family member: 
is allergic to certain medicines or foods
have any other medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or kidney or liver disease
take other prescription or OTC medicines regularly
follow a special diet or take dietary supplements
use alcohol or tobacco regularly
Talk with your healthcare provider before you or another family member use an OTC medicine for the first time, especially if it will be combined with another prescription medicine. 
Contact the doctor or pharmacist if new or unexpected symptoms or other problems appear.  
Never stop taking medicine the doctor has told you (or your children) to finish just because symptoms
Get expert advice before crushing or splitting tablets; some should only be swallowed whole.
If your doctor writes you or your child a prescription by hand, make sure you can read it. Also ask if he or she can indicate what the medicine is used for. For example, writing “take once daily for high blood pressure,” not just “take once daily.” Ask whether he or she has started using electronic or
e-prescribing to improve the safety and efficiency of the prescribing process.
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Your Family’s Health Team

Patients need to work with their healthcare providers, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacists, to make sure they receive the most benefit from their medicines.

Get the best results by partnering with your family’s healthcare team. Members of this health team may include: results by partnering with your family’s healthcare team. Members of this health team may include:

Your primary care provider, who acts as the “gatekeeper” to the health system and could be your doctor, physician’s assistant and/or nurse practitioner. In most cases, this doctor is who you or your loved one would see first if you are feeling sick, or for your annual check-up. He or she will then coordinate with other doctors as needed to help ensure the highest quality of care for you and other members of your family.
Your pediatrician is a doctor who follows the wellbeing and growth of your children.  A minimum annual check-up is usually advised. 
Nurses help with your family’s care at home, school or work, in a doctor’s office or at a hospital. 
Pharmacists fill your prescriptions and are available to answer questions about these, OTC medicines and supplements. If you use the same pharmacy for all of your family’s prescriptions, he or she is able to monitor your medication history and can help watch for possible problems.

There are many other health professionals who might play a role in taking care of your family, including the dentist, eye doctor, nutritionist and school nurses, among other specialists (for example, an orthopedist is a specialist who will take care of your child if he or she breaks a bone or sprains an ankle; an endocrinologist is a doctor who help manage diabetes).

Questions to Ask Your Health Team

Here are some questions you might want to ask your family’s healthcare providers about the medicines you and each member of your family take. Write down any other questions you have ahead of time and bring them to your appointment. Be sure to bring a notepad to record the answers so that you won’t have to rely on your memory.

Questions to Ask Your Health Team About Your Medicine