Parents have a tough job. Not only do they have to keep up on their own health, but also the health of each of their children. This can be down right daunting if you have multiple children on multiple prescriptions for multiple problems.

But for a prescription to do its job, it has to be taken as prescribed. Keeping a record of what medications your children take and when they take them can be a huge help. It also helps prevent accidentally giving a dose more than once, a dangerous problem that most commonly occurs when two caregivers are in charge of giving a child medicine.

Parents should take an active role in deciding what medications their child takes. Know why your pediatrician is prescribing a medication and what the potential side effects are. Frequently review medications and make sure that your child isn’t taking unneeded medications. Keep tabs on what medications are in the house and make sure your children or teens do not have access to them — prescription drug abuse is becoming more and more of a problem among our youth.

To help patients, or their parents, understand their prescriptions, the National Council on Patient Information and Education has created the checklist listed below. If you can’t answer one of the questions below, call your doctor and find out more about the prescription.

10 Vital Questions to Ask About Every Prescription

1. What is the name of the medicine, and what is it for? (Also, is this the brand name or the generic name?)

2. Is a generic version available?

3. How, when, and for how long do I take it?

4. What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

5. When should this medicine start working? How will I know if it is? Are tests required while taking it (e.g., to check liver or kidney function)?

6. Are there any side effects? What are they, and what do I do if they occur?

7. Will this medicine work safely with other medicines (prescription and nonprescription)? Will it work safely with dietary/herbal supplements?

8. Will I need a refill? If so, when?

9. How should I store the medicine?

10. Is there written information about the medicine? Is it available in large print or other languages?

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Prescriptions – Keeping them straight and making them work for your children

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