Know Your Prescriptions

Healthy Men

If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, make sure you’ve told him or her about any other medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. You also need to talk about any allergies you have or any side effects you’ve had with other drugs.When you get a new prescription, make sure you understand what your doctor is prescribing, why you need to take it, and how often you should take it.

When your doctor prescribes a new medication, find out:

  • The name of the medication and what it’s supposed to do for you.
  • If it’s okay to substitute a less-expensive generic brand for the name brand drug.
  • What the dose is and if you should avoid any other medicines, drinks, or food while you’re taking it.
  • How many refills you should get.
  • What you should do it you miss a dose or if you take too much of it.

When you pick up your prescription, ask the pharmacist:

  • If the drug is what your doctor ordered.
  • If an information sheet is available on the medication that explains possible side effects.
  • What the medicine label means. If the label says you need to take it three times a day, ask if that means you should take it every 8 hours or if you should take it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • How you should measure the medication if it’s a liquid.

You should schedule a followup visit with your doctor to track your progress. If you’ve gotten any new prescriptions from other doctors or have started taking new over-the-counter medications, be sure to let your doctor know during your office visit.

Page last reviewed December 2012
Internet Citation: Know Your Prescriptions. Content last reviewed December 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.