Got a New Prescription? Here’s What to Ask Your Physician

By: VGFS
Tuesday, February 1, 2022

At Vaughn Greene Funeral Services, we care about your health. And being informed about the drugs you’re taking is an important part of managing your health care.

Any time your provider writes a new prescription for you, there are some questions you should ask before agreeing to take it. By doing so, you will not only better understand the medication and how to use it, but you also will learn why it’s necessary and what to expect.

Here are six important questions to ask whenever your physician prescribes a medication. And don't forget to jot down the answers!

  1. What are the common side effects?
    It’s important to know what to expect with a new medication. That way, you can consider whether enduring them is worth whatever benefit you might see. You should also ask how the drug will interact with anything else you're taking, including supplements.
     
  2. Will this be a "lifer" drug?
    Lifer drugs are those that will be necessary for years, and usually for the rest of your life, such as blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medications. It isn’t wise to take any medication for the long-term based wholly on the result of a single blood test or another one-time measure. For example, blood test results vary depending on the time of day the blood is drawn, if you ate beforehand, what you ate, and how much sleep you got. Blood pressure readings can vary similarly. Also, MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and other imaging tests can be interpreted differently depending on who is reading them. Ask for a repeat test and then make your decision.
     
  3. If you'll be taking the drug long-term, can you wait before making a decision about it?
    You never know if a change in diet, lifestyle or some other non-drug remedy might work instead. For most lifer medications, it usually isn’t necessary to make an immediate decision. High cholesterol, moderately high blood pressure, and weakening bones, for example, are not emergencies.
     
  4. What are the results of long-term studies for this medication?
    That's particularly important for drugs that will be taken for many years and possibly for a lifetime. Twenty-year studies are had to come by but it never hurts to ask.
     
  5. What would happen if you needed to go off the drug at some point in the future?
    It's possible that after taking a drug for some time, intolerable side effects or reactions may develop that require you to stop taking it. You may be able to lower your dose or try a different medication, but it’s wise to ask before you even begin taking it.       
                      
  6. Can you take an older version of a medication rather than the newest version?
    Older drugs are often the better choice. They have been used on an immense population pool and in daily life. New drugs, in contrast, have been tested on fewer people and the strict conditions in a study don’t always reflect the varied lifestyles and predispositions of the population at large.

When it comes to taking prescriptions, it’s important to get the facts. Ask questions while remaining polite and making it clear that you aren’t trying to be difficult. Doctors are people, too, and they will treat you better if you're courteous.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, and repast services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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