If you’re starting a new medication, you’re not alone. About 66% of American adults take at least one daily pill, and just over 50% take multiple medications every day. If your doctor ever wants to start you on a new medication, it’s important that you are an active participant. With that in mind, here are the most important things you should know before starting a new medication.
Start With Why
When your doctor says they’re going to start you on a new medication, don’t be afraid to ask why. Not only is it essential to understand why the doctor thinks medication is necessary, but it may also be helpful for them to go over the physical process of how this new drug will help.
It’s important to ask why because some doctors may prescribe a medication for the side effects it causes rather than for its primary purpose. You should know what drug you’re taking, what it’s called, and why you’re taking it.
Before starting any drug, make sure your doctor understands your complete medical history. This means your family history, past surgeries, prior and current medications, and allergies.
Any of those factors could impact how your body reacts to a new medication. Family history and ethnic background are important because they predict how your body might react to the drug. Similarly, if you’ve had a past operation (particularly on your organs), that could affect how your body reacts to a new drug.
Knowing all your current medications is crucial, especially if you see multiple doctors and your medical documentation is not all in one place. In some cases, drugs taken together can have adverse side effects that would not be present otherwise, which is why your doctor needs to know all the medicines you take, even the ones they didn’t prescribe.
Because medications can have multiple names or difficult-to-pronounce names, it’s a good idea to write down all your current medications on your phone and a card kept in your wallet. This can help your doctor understand whether a new prescription is right for you and is one of the best ways to prevent an allergic reaction in case of an emergency.
How to Take It
When you pick up your medication, make sure your pharmacist explains how to take it and when. While the bottle itself should give you some indication, this isn’t always the case. If you already take a medication, you must find out whether you can take both pills together.
How Long Until It Works
Some pills provide immediate relief, and others may take upwards of a month to kick in. Before starting a new medication, you should ask your doctor how long before you should start feeling the effects.
At the same time, make sure you get an idea of the potential side effects before you start starting a new medication. In some cases, the side effects can kick in before the primary effect.
Some doctors are reluctant to share the side effects of a particular medication. They might believe that knowing potential side effects would make you hypersensitive to them. In more serious cases, they may tell you there is no connection between your new medication and the side effects.
When your doctor is prescribing a new medication that will impact your overall health, you must know what to expect. Severe or life-threatening side effects should not be a surprise, and they increase the possibility that the doctor was negligent in their practice.
If your doctor doesn’t account for your medical history and allergies before prescribing a new medication, if they are reluctant to keep you informed about your options, and if they dismiss your claims of negative side effects, you may have standing for a medical malpractice claim.
That said, medical malpractice cases are incredibly complex, which is why it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect that something’s wrong.
If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Northwest Indiana medical malpractice attorney who cares, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (219) 212-2462 so we can discuss your options.