Are You Reading the Labels and Identifying Your Medication?

Several months ago I was hospitalized for a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer.  Fortunately, all went as well as can be expected for a very aggressive procedure.  During that time I kept learning/ re-learning how essential it is to read any product labels that are available to patients and to check/re-check all medications that are handed to you BEFORE you ingest them.  Although not always easy to do when you’re an inpatient, it’s most important to do everywhere – in the pharmacy, in the doctor’s office or in the hospital.  If you’re unable to ask about medications yourself because you’re too ill, your hearing/sight is impaired or you have difficulty with English, please ask a friend/family member to ask the questions for you.

Because my GI system doesn’t love dairy I do my best to stay away from it.  My appetite, as with most transplant patients, was pretty non-existent during my hospitalization.  So, it was suggested I try the newest supportive product called Ensure Clear to provide some much needed calories. I assumed it was dairy free, but when I read the label, I found it had whey protein that comes from milk.  Uh oh.  The dietary staff in the hospital kept sending it up to me and I kept returning it explaining Ensure Clear was actually a dairy product. Glad I read the label!

Additionally, whenever I was presented with a paper cup filled with medication I asked the nurse what was in it!  As I always do, I ask the nurse if he/she wouldn’t mind telling me the name of each drug and it’s intended purpose.  So far, I’ve never had a nurse get annoyed with my question.  Most nurses believe double checking on medications is a very good idea.

In order to be an effective healthcare advocate you’ve got to read labels and ask for help in identifying a drug and it’s intended use. As I’ve said before, this drug is going into your most precious possession – your very, own body.  Don’t be shy.  It’s worth remembering that medical professionals are educators as well as practitioners and therefore, it’s always more than okay to ask questions about a drug BEFORE you take it!  #askforwhatyouneed #trustyourdoctorbutnotthatmuch #whywaitreina #becomeyourownbesthealthcareadvocate

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