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What Pennsylvania patients should ask when prescribed painkillers

Asking the right questions before starting a painkiller prescription can pave the way to a successful recovery.

When you receive a prescription for a medication from your physician in Pennsylvania, you should ask a few questions to understand what you can expect. It is when your doctor prescribes you an opioid or another powerful painkiller that it is especially vital you ask questions. Doing so can prevent an avoidable medication error and ease any concerns you might have about how you may react to the medication.

What kind of medication is this exactly?

Upon learning you are being prescribed a medication, find out for sure what kind it is and the effect it will have on you. Since you are not a medical expert, you likely do not know every medication in existence. You also have to remember that not all painkillers are controlled substances like opioids.

How long do I have to take this medication?

Learn when you need to start taking your painkillers, when you can stop taking them and whether you need to slowly stop taking them over a period of time. You should also ask if there are any side effects of the medication and if there is anything you can do to mitigate them so you can go about your days as normally as possible.

What kind of pain am I being treated for?

There is acute pain, which comes on seemingly out of nowhere, and chronic pain, which is a constant pain you have likely experienced for an extended period of time. The reason to ask this kind of question is that the two kinds of pain are not addressed the same way. You do not want your doctor giving you a painkiller for acute pain when you have chronic pain, which might constitute a misdiagnosis.

Are their any non-opioid medications that can treat my pain?

If you are, in fact, taking opioid painkillers, know that there is a chance you can become addicted to them. To minimize your risk, ask your doctor if there is a non-opioid alternative prescription you can take instead. While such alternatives can come with their own set of side effects, you might prefer them to the possibility of becoming an accidental addict.

Can I have a prescription for naloxone?

Should your physician inform you there are no alternatives to an opioid painkiller, be sure to ask if you can have a prescription for naloxone. This is a medication that can save your life if you accidentally overdose on an opioid.

If you find yourself embroiled in a medication error with your main healthcare provider in Pennsylvania, do yourself a favor and consult with an attorney. There is no need to feel like you have to deal with this situation alone.