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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Before agreeing to take any drug, ask the questions you need to know to find out if a particular drug works for you, or whether there is a better alternative.

A list of questions that you can print and take to the doctor with you is another section of this article.

Before the doctor's visit, circle the questions which are most meaningful to you. Then number those starting with the number "1" in the order to ask the questions. If the doctor doesn't have time for all the questions, at least ask the ones that are most important to you. You can ask your pharmacist for the answers to any unanswered questions.

While it may seem to be a pain to write the answers, especially right away, they will be very helpful in making sure you understand the reality surrounding the particular drug, and that you'll remember all the details.

If you would prefer, take a friend with you to the doctor's appointment and ask him or her to make the notes. Or you can record the answers and transcribe them later. Your phone likely has a recording feature. If not, portable recorders are small and inexpensive.

NOTE: After you've completed the form, store it with your copy of your medical records so you can refer to the answers if questions come up.


What? What is the name of the drug and (to avoid drug errors) how do you spell it? ________________________________

Why? Why is the medication being prescribed? _________________________________

How? How does this medicine work in my body? ______________________________
How long does it take before it starts working? _______________________________
How will I know if it is working for me?_______________________________________
If this involves tests, and they are not covered by my insurance, how much are the tests and how often will I need them? _____________________________

How can I expect to feel once I start taking this medicine? ________________________

Side Effects: What side effects might I expect? ______________________________

How will the side effects affect my work? ___________________________________

How can I tell if a side effect is severe or prolonged enough that I should report it to you?

What can I do to prevent or lessen side effects?  _______________________________
What should I do if they do occur? ________________________________________

Effectiveness: How will I know whether the drug is working? _____________________
Is there a typical time period after which my symptoms should improve? Yes/ No.
If yes, how long? ____________

Doctor's Experience: What has your experience been with this medicine? For instance:
How many years have you been prescribing this medicine? ____________ For how many people? _____ What have the results been? _______________________________________________________________

FDA Approval: Is the drug approved for this use? Yes/No. If no, why do you recommend this "off label" use?_____________________________________
Why is it better for me than the drugs which are approved for this use? ______________________________

If the drug is new to the market: Do studies show the drug is more effective than the ones on the market? Yes/No

How does the increase in effectiveness compare to the risk of using a drug with a short safety record? __________________________________________________
If the drug is more expensive than drugs on the market, is it worth the difference? Yes/no

Frequency: How many times a day should I take it? ______________________ If the frequency is a problem, is there another drug that is easier to take? __________________

Timing: Is there a better time of day to take the medication? Yes/No If so, when is the best time to take the medication?_____________________________ ________

Dosage: Can I start with a lower than usual dosage and gradually increase dosage to avoid overmedication, or start at normal and reduce the dose? ______________

Skipped dosage: If I forget to take the medicine, what should I do?____________

Do's and Don'ts: What are the do's and don'ts I should know about? For example:

  • Food:
    • Do I take it with, or without, food? With/Without  
    • Are there any foods or drinks I should avoid while I'm taking the drug? Yes/No. If "Yes", which: __________________________  
  • Alcohol: Can I drink alcohol while on this drug? (Some drugs boost the intoxication effects of alcohol. On the other side of the coin, alcohol can magnify a drug's risks or side effects or harmfully increase or decrease its therapeutic effects) Yes/No
  • Driving and Operating Heavy Equipment: Is there a negative effect on these activities? Yes/No
  • Sun: Does the drug intensify sensitivity to the sun? Yes/No
  • Vitamins/Minerals: Do I need to take extra vitamins or minerals because of the effect of the drug on my body? Yes/No. If "yes", which ones: ______________

Time: How long do you suggest I take this medicine?____________________________

Interaction: (Give the doctor a List of Your Medications, herbs, vitamins and supplements. Then ask:) Can this medicine interact with other medications, supplements or herbs I'm taking? If so, which ones? ________________________________________

Are there strategies such as weight loss, exercise or salt reduction that would work as well to treat the situation, or at least minimize the amount of medication needed?

Alternatives: Are there other drugs that would be easier to take, have less side effects, be easier to take, have less effect on my work, and/or be less costly? Yes/No (If yes, ask all the same questions about the alternative as you ask about the prescribed drug.)

Health Coverage With A List Of Approved Drugs (a "Formulary") If my insurance includes a formulary, is the drug on it? Yes/No

(Note:  If a non-formulary drug is the best for your needs, ask your doctor to help get an exception from your insurance company or government provider. If the doctor believes the drug is the only one that fits your needs, the odds are good that the company will make an exception.)

If the drug is not covered by my insurance plan, are there other prescription or over-the-counter remedies, which may be cheaper, which are as effective?

Refills: If I need a refill, will it require a new prescription? If so, what is the easiest way to obtain one? ___________________

Storage: How should I store this drug?___________________________________

Long Term Effects: What are the long term effects? For example, can there be a dependency created? _______________________________
If dependency is a possible effect, what would be involved in breaking the dependency?

Who Should I call if I have a problem or question about the medication during or after office hours? ___________________________________

What If The Drug Doesn't Work? ________________________________

Is there anything else you would ask if you were me, or that I should be aware of?