New Patients Leave Doctors Offices Without Key Information


In any given week, four out of five adults will take a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. The more information you have about your medicine, the better able you will be to use it properly. But when it comes to prescription medicine, a 2006 study at the University of California in Los Angeles showed that patients left the doctor's office without at least one of these key pieces of information about their new medicine:

  • The name of the medicine
  • The reason for taking the medicine
  • How much should be taken, and
  • when and how it should be taken
  • How long it should be used
  • Bad side effects

One out of four times, doctors did not tell patients the specific name of the medicine. They explained the purpose of the medicine in most cases, but only discussed bad side effects for 35 percent of new prescriptions. Just one in three patients were told how long to take the medicine. Only half of the time, doctors told patients the number of tablets to take and when to take them.

When you visit your doctor, bring a list of the medicines you take, including prescription and OTC medicines, vitamins, and herbals. If your doctor prescribes or suggests a new medicine, ask questions so you are sure you know how to take your medicine correctly. Bring a notebook or family member with you, and write down the doctor's instructions. If you still have a question, ask your pharmacist when you purchase your medicine.

Created on September 1, 2007

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