• Medication Questions to Ask

  • Every year, it’s estimated that upward of three-quarter of a million Americans will wind up in a hospital emergency room simply due to a medication error, often preventable. And blood thinners, particularly warfarin, are one of the top three medications that result in hospitalization.

    Warfarin, known commonly by the brand name Coumadin, is taken to prevent blood clots. This drug is extremely sensitive to other drugs, foods, and supplements that alter the levels of the liver enzyme used to break down the warfarin, says Dennis Vettese, Coumadin Clinic coordinator at St. Thomas More Hospital. When that enzyme is altered, the liver degrades the warfarin faster or slower than expected. If the warfarin is degraded slower, it can lose its power to prevent blood clots. If it is degraded faster, it can cause unexpected bleeding. “Coumadin patients need absolute awareness that many different medications can cause dangerous changes in levels,” Vettese says.

    Don’t leave your doctor’s office or pharmacy with unanswered questions. 

    10 Questions You Must Ask

    1. What am I on this medication for and why do I need this treatment?
    2. What is the brand name and generic name and how do I spell that?
    3. How should I take this medication? For how long?
    4. When should I take it? What time of day, before or after meals?
    5. What side effects may occur? How can I tell these side effects? What do I do if they occur?
    6. What does this medication interact with? What medications, supplement, herbals, food, drink, activities should I avoid – and when?
    7. How long does it take for this medication to work? How will I know that it is working?
    8. What should I do when I miss a dose? What if I overdose?
    9. Are there any precautions I should take when I am on this medication?
    10. How should I store this medication?

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