Jump-start a healthy, helpful conversation with your healthcare provider
Below are some tips to help you have the most effective, impactful and useful conversations about medicines with your family’s healthcare team at physical examinations, annual check-ups or sick visits.
- Develop, share and discuss an up-to-date list of all the medicines, vitamins, herbals and dietary supplements you are taking. Write down the medicine names and dosage strength. (Maintain a medicine list for each member of your family, and make sure your spouse, or adult children if appropriate, can access the list in case of urgent care or emergency hospital visits.)
- Ask your healthcare provider to review the list of medicines you are prescribed 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 your healthcare provider 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 disappear.
- Get expert advice from a pharmacist before crushing or splitting tablets; some should only be swallowed whole.
- If your doctor or nurse practitioner 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 can use e-prescribing (prescriptions electronically sent to your pharmacy directly from your doctor’s office) to improve the prescribing process.
More conversation kick-starters
- Ask the Right Questions: Key questions to ask about the medicines you and your family members take
- Make Note, Take Note “wallet card” to ask the right questions at your upcoming health appointment
- Remember To Ask “wallet card” to guide your discussion with your healthcare provider
- 10 terms to know for medication safety: Side Effects, Interactions, Adherence and More
- Why ask questions? Talk Before You Take videos
Learn more about maximizing medicine benefits and minimizing risks