Frequently Rated Drugs
Patient Empowerment and Patient Rights:
Research Tips and Best Web Site Resources
To be healthy, you have to take charge of your health care. Here are some tips for making informed treatment decisions. If you are thinking about taking a drug, consider doing the following:
Research your Condition and Drug Treatment
1-Discuss the benefits and the potential side effects with the doctor who is prescribing the drug to you For example, ask your doctor why he thinks this particular drug will work for you. Why this brand? Why this dosage?
2- Research the drug on your own. Here are some ways to do that:
- Read consumer reviews on AskaPatient.com and keep an open attitude, as everyone’s body chemistry is different; what works for some may not work for all. See how the drug has fared for others in your age group or have used it for the same reasons that you are using it. You can do this using the ‘advanced search’ feature.
- Make sure you click on the link to “FDA Reports” from the top of the AskaPatient page to see if there are any recent announcements or safety warnings from the FDA about the drug. The FDA web site can be time consuming to navigate as specific drug information can be posted in multiple directories and this link to a custom search saves time.
- Find out when the drug was first approved at Drugs@FDA database . Was it approved recently or has it been around for a long time?
- Find out more about the drug from MedlinePlus at the National Library of Medicine.
- Research the drug through a search of the medical literature; you can do this at PubMed or Google Scholar.
- If you have a pill in your medicine cabinet and don’t know what it is, you can do a visual search or an imprint code search at Drugs.com.
- Look at sites that profile controversial drugs, such as worstpills.org
- Look at other sites that provide prescription drug information. AskaPatient's "Drug Resources" page describes many of them.
3-If you and your doctor agree that you should take the drug, read the information provided by the drug manufacturer that is provided with the prescription. Take it as prescribed, noticing any side effects or benefits you are experiencing, and how far into the medicine regimen the side effects started to occur.
4- Share your experience with your doctor, especially if you have negative side effects. Is it working? Great! Report your success to your doctor and at AskaPatient.com
If side effects are particularly severe, you may be suffering from an “adverse event”. Please report these to the FDA using their Medwatch program.
5-If you have the time, share your experience with others on the Ask a Patient web site.
6- If you are a senior or are taking care of a senior, consider finding or becoming an elder advocate. (See resources below).
These sites include information for the empowered patient:
Advocate: Public Citizen's Health Research Group: Health & Safety Initiatives
Public Citizen advocates for stronger physician accountability; safer, more effective drugs, medical devices and dietary supplements; and equitable health care.
that Your Physician is Licensed and in Good Standing: Federation of
State Medical Boards
Link to State Medical Boards for Physician License Verification and Disciplinary Actions.
Click on your state of interest, and find a link to that state's medical board web site. Many of the state medical board web sites allow you to look up a particular doctor, and some of them also post disciplinary action on their web sites. This organization also maintains a "board action data bank" that is not available to the public, but the contents are explained on their web site.
Privacy Information Center
Includes section on "Medical Record Privacy", and discussion
of such topics as national identification numbers, genetic information,
legislation, and research.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Includes Fact Sheets such as , "What do my medical records contain?"
This informative document explains who (including employers, insurance companies, etc.) has access to your medical records, and how you can obtain a copy of your file if is contained in the "Medical Information Bureau" database. It also explains how others may obtain copies of your medical records, for instance for legal matters. Provides guidelines on how you can protect the privacy of your medical records.
NY State Dept. of Health Provides a useful brochure on your rights as a patient.
for Medical Consumers Contains many articles
on consumer procedures, treatments, and conditions. Think a treatment might be unnecessary? Topics include overdiagnosis and its consequences, how to recognize unnecessary treatment, how to understand inflated claims for screening tests and preventive drug therapy.
National Coalition for Patient Rights Part of Maine Civil Liberties Union.
Women's Health Care Rights: National Women's Health Network
Patient Empowerment at About.com
Information on patient empowerment, including how-tos, problems and solutions and information for those interested in becoming a patient advocate.
Forum for Patient Advocates: http://forums.needymeds.com/
Seniors Patient Rights
Who Moved My Dentures? Essential Information for Boomers on Healthcare, Aging and Caregiving
My Elder Advocate - for senior patient advocacy