How to get full medication information from your health care providers

Many times people don’t know the complete details of their medications. Some people just know of their meds as pink pills or white pills or square pills. One of our more popular blogs was questioning why some people are so ignorant about the meds they take. This is a follow up blog about how to get full medication information.

1. Ask questions.

If you have trouble reading the slips provided by the doctor, to get full medication information, you can keep talking to the doctor or pharmacist.  Once I had to tell a doctor that my appointment time was important to me, and I was thinking about not leaving his office until 15 minutes was up, whether or not he was done. Diane Engster says, “Several consumers I have advocated for had special education issues as young people, and cannot read or understand complex information.  They have trouble deciphering the drug info sheets that come from pharmacies.”  Bring a list of questions to the doctor.

Kirsten Phillips at Bike for the Brain 2011. She insists on full medication information from providers.

Kirsten Phillips at Bike for the Brain 2011. She insists on full medication information from providers.

2. Be insistent

However, if you insist with the mental health care provider that you need them to explain it in terms you can understand, they will keep trying to simplify. The key is not to leave until you get your questions answered. If you have a doctor who can’t simply the explanation into language that you understand, get a different doctor. A good doctor will view education as a very important part of their job. If you stick true to yourself and don’t leave until you have somehow understood the full medication information, this will go a long way. Remember, good communication requires two parties and if you think you can get the full medication information later, it may not happen.

3. Ask for a Translator

Diane Engster says, “In my city,  we have an incredibly diverse population, and many people don’t have English as their first language.  They are at a great disadvantage when seeing the doc, and reading the med sheets.”   I have noticed that when I used to get mental health services, my mental health center had a list of 37 languages that they can bring in translators for if needed. Just ask for help, it’s already provided. Plus you may be helping someone else. If the staff themselves becomes more familiar with the translation service, they’ll be more likely to offer it to other people who didn’t know to ask.

4. If you have an intellectual disability, know your strengths and weakness.

Mindy Goldstein from Kansas City is a certified laughter leader. She leads laughter yoga classes in Kansas City. Here she is talking to The Chocolate Fairy who advocates for full medication information.

Mindy Goldstein from Kansas City is a certified laughter leader. She leads laughter yoga classes in Kansas City. Here she is talking to The Chocolate Fairy who advocates for full medication information.

Find out ways to work around them. One of my favorite advocates in Kansas City has a cognitive disability and knows that navigation by car is very hard for her. So if something is very important, she finds a person to carpool with. With a difference in ability, the key is not to “Try harder.” The key is to try differently.

5. Learn more about computers

You can get the full medication information sheet that doctors get on most drugs just by Googling the drug name and “prescribing information.” You can also read other patients’ stories online at many forums like this one on surviving antidepressants.  If you’re not comfortable with computers, take a class at your local library. Remember that you’re not likely to break it and keep trying or ask a young person for help.

6. Learn how to advocate for yourself

This is an awesome article from Patricia Deegan that shows how people can learn how to be their own best medication advocates. She advocates preparing for your doctor’s visits ahead of time. 

 7. Ask for a certified peer specialist. 

In Kansas mental health centers are forced to hire one peer specialist but then say, “No one wanted to talk to the peer specialist.” However, no one knew that service was available. There was a rule that was passed that people who requested help from a peer specialist would be given the help. Your state might have this kind of situation where you can get help if you just ask.

What have you found is the best way to get full medication information?

 

 

Wordworks Blog Author: Corinna West

Corinna West is the founder and creative director of Wellness Wordworks, and is an Olympic Team Member and has a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Her Instant Peer Support might be the first in the mental health sector to remove the need for government and charity funding by creating a profitable interaction involving only our business and our direct customers.

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