How to Avoid Prescription Drug Risks
Almost all medications have their risks, even when they've been prescribed by a doctor. However, those risks can be avoided in many instances. Here are some tips:
- Ask questions. Your doctor or pharmacist will warn you about possible side effects, but find out how likely they are to occur and what you might do to avoid them.
- Ask about alternatives. Ask, "Are there other medications that might be more effective, or better tolerated, even if they're more expensive?"
- Don't overreact. Some patients stop taking a medication if it produces harmless and temporary but noticeable side-effects (such as hives). Consult your doctor before discontinuing any medication.
- Take the full dose. Some patients tend to take less of a medicine than they need.
- Schedule regular times to take your medications, and observe those times religiously so you never miss a dose.
- Keep a written log of whatever reactions you have (positive and negative) to your medications.
- If you're going off a drug, check with your doctor to see if you can stop it abruptly, or if you need to gradually reduce dosage.
- If your doctor's prescription doesn't sound right to you, don't hesitate to get a second opinion.
- Don't take other people's medicine, or allow anyone else to use yours. A drug that works well for one person might have very different effects on someone else--and you might be responsible if someone has a bad reaction to medications that were prescribed to you.