The single most important way you can stay
healthy is to be an active member of your own
health care team. One way to get high-quality
health care is to find and use information and
take an active role in all of the decisions made
about your care.
This information will help you when getting a
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Understanding the importance your
medication plays in your treatment will help
you get the most benefit from your
prescription. It is important to take an active
role in your health care by working with your
doctor, nurse, and pharmacist to learn as
much as possible about your prescription.
When you are prescribed a new medication,
ask your doctor or pharmacist the following
- What is the name of the medicine? What
is it supposed to do?
- Is it okay to substitute a less-expensive
generic medicine for the name brand? Will
it achieve the same effect?
- What is the dose of the medicine? Are
there food, drinks, other medicines, or
activities I should avoid while taking this
- What are the possible side effects of the
medicine? What should I do if they occur?
- How many refills of this prescription can
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- What should I do if I accidentally take
more than the recommended dose?
- Is there any written information I can take
home with me? (Most pharmacies have
information sheets that you can use as an
When you pick up your medicine at the
pharmacy, check to be sure it is the medicine
you were prescribed by your doctor.
When your doctor prescribes a medication
for you for the first time, make sure to tell
him or her the following:
- The names of all medicines you are
currently taking, including both over-the-counter
and prescription medication. It is
important for your doctor to know this
information in order to prescribe the
medicine that will be the most helpful.
- Any concerns you have about using your
- If you are allergic to any medication or
have had troubling side effects from a
medication that has been prescribed to you.
During your treatment, you should schedule a
followup visit to your physician in order to
monitor your progress. Make sure to tell
him or her:
- About any problems you are having with
- About any side effects or problems you
have had since starting to take the
- About any new prescriptions that another
doctor may have given you and any over-the-counter medicines that you started
taking since your last doctor's visit.
- How you are feeling since starting the
Remember, quality matters, especially when it
comes to your health. For more information
on health care quality and materials to help
you make health care decisions, go to Choosing Quality Care.
Current as of May 2002
AHRQ Publication No. 01-0040c
Quick Tips—When Getting a Prescription. AHRQ Publication No. 01-0040c, May 2002. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/quicktips/tipprescrip.htm