Being as informed as you can be about your health and the medications you are prescribed to treat any conditions you may have is really important.
From our experience we can offer some guidance around how to be a well informed patient.
Within the original packaging of all regulated medicines, you will find an important document called the Patient Information Leaflet, or PIL. We recommend you read this document carefully and keep it for future reference.
The Patient Information Leaflet gives you key bits of information to help you get the desired results from your medicine. If for any reason your medicine has not come with this leaflet, you can ask for one from your pharmacist. PILs are also available to download from the HPRA website.
Reading the Patient Information Leaflet is designed to supplement – not replace – discussions with your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional about any medication you are about to take.
Styles of Patient Information Leaflet will vary from company to company, but generally they have to include the information highlighted on the example below.
Both pages of an example Patient Information Leaflet can be seen below.
Please note that the content we’ve provided on this website is only for information. We’re not legally allowed to give advice on your personal medical situation. So, if you’ve got questions about something specific to do with your own health it’s always best to speak to your doctor.
Obviously everyone’s individual health needs are different and so a face-to-face discussion with a healthcare professional will mean you get the best guidance available and the most suitable outcome for your unique set of circumstances.
You can of course use any of the information you’ve found on our website as a starting point for discussion when you meet with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
If your doctor prescribes a medication for you, it's a good idea to try to find out as much about it as you can, including how to take it properly.
When you’re preparing to see your doctor, it may be helpful to take a list of any medicine you’re currently taking – including dietary supplements or herbal/natural remedies.
To ensure you’re taking as much care as possible when taking your medicine you might have some questions to ask during your appointment. We’ve pulled together a list of some key points you might want to consider asking:
When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your medication it’s worth double checking that this is the medicine that your doctor prescribed for you.
The pharmacist should also advise you on how and when to take it, and give you a patient information leaflet (PIL) about your medicine – or there will be one in the box.
Your pharmacist will try to address any concerns you have and help you understand the information you have been given about the medicine. They’ll advise you to go back to your doctor, if necessary.
When you buy medication over the counter without a prescription from your doctor, it’s always best to read the labels carefully – the medicine may contain ingredients which you do not want or should not take. You’ll also need to check whether this medication interacts with any prescription medicine you might be taking or with any foods.
The pharmacist will be able to advise you in selecting the right product for you.
When you have a hospital appointment, you may need to take any medicine you are already prescribed with you to the hospital.
Many of the same questions we talked about in the ‘At the doctor’s’ section apply at the hospital too. It’s always best to ask if you’re unsure – nothing is trivial if it’s bothering you.
There are also a few extra things to bear in mind when you’re at the hospital. It sounds obvious to say but it’s crucial you don’t let anyone give you medication without them first checking your hospital identification bracelet. This will help ensure you don’t get someone else's medication.
If you’re having a test or a procedure, it’s a good idea to ask if it will require any dyes or medicines in case you’re allergic to anything they’re intending to use.
When it’s time for you to leave hospital, some people find it helpful to ask the doctor, nurse or pharmacist to talk you and/or a family member through each medication.
Once you’re at home and getting underway with taking your medicine it’s still really important to follow the instructions you’ve been given.
We all lead busy lives but if medicines aren’t taken correctly there’s the risk they might not work properly. So, with that in mind, here are some tips to help make sure your medicine will work as well as it can do: