Knowing Your Medication

Knowing when you need to take medication, and why you need to take it, can greatly reduce risk of medication failure. It is a good idea to ask your caregiver or pharmacist as much as possible about your medication. The more information you have, the more confident you can be about avoiding any failures that may occur. Recommended questions are as follows:
  • What is the medication?
  • What does it do?
  • Why and how am I supposed to take it?
  • How long should I take it?
  • Are there any side effects? What should I do if they occur?
  • Is this medication safe to take with supplements or other medication?
  • Are there any daily activities that may be affected by this medication? (eating, sleeping, walking, etc.)
You should also become familiar with your medication. Write down and know the name, color, packaging (if any), and size of your medication. Let your caregiver know if a medication looks different from what you are used to taking.

If you are an inpatient, discuss with your caregiver what you should be doing with any other medications you may already be using before you come to the hospital. Do not use any medications you have brought from home unless your caregiver asks you to do so.

Bring a family member with you to ensure you understand the directions given about the medication. Having another person with you to hear about the medication may help you later. Also, be sure to ask questions. Medicine labels can be difficult to understand, and asking your pharmacist or caregiver may help clarify confusion.

Finally, if you wish to stop using any medication, please contact your physician's office immediately to be sure it is safe to do so. Do not assume it is best to wait until your next visit.