Questions to Ask When Given a New Prescription

Pharmacist consulting with patient

By: Tyler Prokuski, PharmD Candidate

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 48% of people in the United States were prescribed at least one medication in the past 30 days. Prescriptions contain a great deal of information that has been carefully thought out by a healthcare professional to ensure it is the best option based on your medical history and current condition.

When someone approaches the pharmacy window to pick up their prescription, the pharmacist tells them the most important things to consider when taking it, including how to store it and how they should expect to feel after taking it. After the pharmacist goes over this information, they will then ask, “What questions do you have about your new prescription?” In the interest of time, most people say they have no questions so they can go about their day, only to realize an hour later they have unanswered questions or concerns about their new medicine. In this article, we hope to address the most important questions you should ask your doctor or pharmacist, so your new medication is safe and effective.

How should I take it?

There will always be directions on the bottle or container you receive your medication in, however these directions can sometimes be unclear or incomplete. For example, when the directions say, “twice daily” and you take the first dose in the morning, do you take the second dose with lunch, dinner or at bedtime? Always clarify this information so you are getting the full effect of the medicine, while making sure you are not taking too much.

How do I know if it's working?

While some medications can work within the hour, others can take weeks to months to have a full effect. Knowing when to expect results is important not only to know when the medicine is working, but also to know when the medicine is not having the effect that is intended. 

What side effects should I expect?

There are virtually no medications that do not cause some side effects. While some side effects are mild burdens, others can be serious and require immediate medical attention. Pharmacists are trained to not only know the side effects of the medications you are taking, but also how common they occur in patients. Make sure to have a conversation with your pharmacist about all the possible side effects of your medication.

How should I store it?

Improper storage of medications can lead to all sorts of problems with how it works in your body. For example, many people store their medications in their bathroom, which can be problematic when someone showers and exposes it to moisture. This can affect how the medication works when you take it. Talk with your pharmacist about proper storage of medications.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

You wake up and find you are late for work, so you rush out and forget all about that pill your doctor told you to take every morning. When you get home should you take the pill you forgot about or wait until the next dose in the morning? Talk to your pharmacist about what you should do when you miss a dose.

Whether you are taking one pill every day or injecting a medication once a week, medication management can slip under the radar for most people in our hectic lives. Asking your local pharmacist or primary doctor questions can help you avoid any problems you may encounter when taking your medications.

Broadlawns offers outpatient and inpatient pharmacy services right on its main campus. In addition to prescriptions, many low-cost generic over-the-counter drugs are also available. A medication drop-off box is conveniently located by the pharmacy check-out window for safe medication disposal.

Broadlawns Pharmacy hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Prescription refills may be requested 24/7. To reach the Broadlawns Pharmacy call (515) 282-2378. Most insurance plans accepted.

Tyler Prokuski is a Drake University PharmD Candidate completing his Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience inpatient pharmacy rotation at Broadlawns Medical Center.