Today, many pharmacists work at hospitals and are part of your health-care team. If you or someone you love is hospitalized, it’s important to involve the pharmacist in your care and get answers to these 14 important questions about your prescriptions.
Guest post by:
Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, 2016
Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED)
College of Pharmacy
Student Curriculum Counsel Representative
The role of a pharmacist is rapidly changing and expanding. For years (and perhaps even now), you may have associated pharmacists only with your local drug store. Today, you’ll find clinically trained pharmacists in many places at a medical center, including medical / surgical care units, emergency departments and clinical pharmacies. They verify physicians’ orders and monitor the effectiveness and safety of every medication prescribed in the hospital.
Pharmacists are medication experts that work together with your other health-care providers to ensure quality care. They are also readily accessible and prepared to answer any questions you or your loved ones may have while in the hospital.
What to Ask a Hospital Pharmacist
But, since the whole idea of a hospital pharmacist may be new to you, perhaps you don’t know what questions to ask. While the following list is not exhaustive, it does cover the key things you should ask a pharmacist before you or a loved one leaves the hospital. Keep it handy!
- What medications am I currently taking that differ from ones I take at home?
- Why was a medication started?
- What do I need to know about a newly diagnosed condition (diabetes, asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) and my medications?
- How it affects the body
- What is the new medication used for?
- How am I going to feel when I take this medication?
- How am I supposed to take this medication?
- How will I know this medication is working?
- What are the benefits of taking this medication?
- What are possible side effects of this medication and what am I supposed to do if I experience any side effects?
- Will this medication interact with any of the other medications I’m taking?
- What are some different ways to remember to take medication?
- What do I do if I miss a dose?
- How long will I be taking this medication?
- If my insurance won’t cover this medication, are there other ways to pay for it such as prescription discount cards?
Keep a List of Your Medications Handy
If you are currently taking any medications, you should keep an up-to-date list of medications with you at all times in your wallet, purse, etc. Use this list to update every person in your healthcare team including pharmacists, physicians, and nurses.
Related article: Two Things a Hospital Pharmacist Wants You to Know
Choose Your Community Pharmacist Wisely
Also, you should fill all of your medications at the same community pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to monitor your medications and to make sure new medications are safe to take with your current ones. Choose a pharmacist you are comfortable talking to and whom you feel knows you the best. You should choose your pharmacist like you choose your physician.
Pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals, as they can be found in every community pharmacy and all throughout a hospital. Please don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you may have. If they are unable to answer you right away, they will get back to you as soon as possible! From now on, think of pharmacists as an important member of your health-care team.