- medication name
- purpose of the medication
- how to take it and what to do if you miss a dose
- how long it should be taken (duration)
- possible side effects
The one that gets left off most often is duration and many people with chronic conditions may not realize that they need to take their medications indefinitely. Before I made it a habit to cover every one of these elements, I often had patients return for a visit and they had stopped their medication because "It ran out and I thought I was finished". That was my fault, not theirs.
Excellent and safe health care needs to be a partnership between a physician and a patient. The Physician has the expertise about medications and it is his/her job to educate and explain why a drug is being prescribed. It is the patient's job to know the medications they are taking. Until we get an electronic medical record that provides real time information for all prescribing doctors and hospitals, it is critical that a patient carry the names and doses of their medications on a card in their wallet. If the Orthopedic doctor prescribes a new pain pill....pull out that list and show her your medication list. Ask the question "Are there any interactions with these meds that are a problem?"
Don't be shy about asking questions. Your health safety is worth it.