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I have been a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and most importantly a patient advocate for over 20 years. I have worked in hospitals, homes and as a private consultant, always teaching patients how to speak up for themselves and to make well informed healthcare decisions that are right for them and help them to avoid all types of Medical Errors. The many things I have seen in healthcare led me write "What Did the Doctor Just Say." In it are all the steps every patient needs to take to remain safe in the healthcare system and avoid medical errors. My personal goal is help to save 100,000 people from the horrors of a medical error and I wrote What Did the Doctor Just Say? to help make that happen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Questions You Should Ask Before Taking Medications

According to a July 2006 Institute of Medicine report, medication and prescription errors
harm a low estimate of 1.5 million people and take the lives of at least 7,000 patients each
year. It is also estimated that every third medication given in a hospital is given in some sort of error.
The mistakes cost the healthcare system approximately $3.7 billion dollars annually.
These costs do not include the monies paid to patients who become disabled after a medication
error.
Up to 80 percent of all medical errors could be prevented by improving the communication
between doctors and patients, and one of the best ways to start the conversation between providers and patients is to teach patients to answer questions. In What Did the Doctor Just Say I teach not only what questions you should ask, I also help you understand why you are asking the questions and what the answers mean in language you can understand.
Taken directly from What Did the Doctor Just Say? here are the questions you should ask your doctor, your pharmacist and yourself before taking any medications, the reasons why you should ask the questions are featured in What Did the Doctor Just Say?

What is the name of the medicine and how do you spell it?
Why am I taking the drug? (high blood pressure, diabetes, blood thinning)

What dose are you prescribing? If at all possible can you write the prescription without using decimal points.

How many times per day should I take the medicine and how many hours apart should I take the doses? Does twice a day mean every twelve hours or at 10.a.m. and 6 p.m.?

What are the side effects of the drug?

Ask the pharmacist to evaluate your medications for interactions with your other medications.

What side effects will tell me I should stop taking the medication and call you to let you know about them?

How long do I need to take the medicine?

When will the medication start working?

Can I stop taking my medicine if I feel better?

Should I avoid any food, drinks, or activities while on the medication?
Should the medicine be taken with food or on an empty stomach?

Is there anything I need to monitor at home: blood pressure, blood sugar, urine output, mood, heart rate, or anything else? If so what are the normal levels of each measurement and at what levels should I call you?

When should I have lab work done and how often should it be repeated?

Can I take a generic version of this medication? A generic is a non-brand name, less expensive version of the drug.

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