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Script Smarts

Patients often want to take an active, informed role in their health care, even though the complicated information can be overwhelming. Dr. Mitchell W. Duininck, a staff physician at Family Medical Care, affiliated with St. John Health System, and program director of In His Image Family Medicine, lays out a few key questions patients should ask about their medications.

“Medication use should be constantly evaluated to make sure they are the right medications and the right doses,” says Duininck.

Start by asking your doctor or nurse to explain why the doctor has chosen this particular medication and how you will know it is working, advises Duininck.

“You can also ask for written information about the medication and research information about the medication on the Internet,” suggests Duininck.

Discuss medication options and dosage.

“Are there other options (you) could use? Are there any over-the-counter medications you could take instead? Is this the lowest dose that will work for you?” says Duininck. “Lifestyle changes, including exercise, weight loss, sodium restriction, smoking cessation, may decrease or completely remove the need for some medications.”
Make sure to discuss allergies, current medications, possible side effects and the duration of the medication’s prescription, says Duininck.

“Always let your doctors know all the medications you are taking, even those that are non-prescription or are supplements,” he says. “Medications can have interactions with each other that can be dangerous.”