Questions for your Hospital and Health-System Pharmacist

Whether in the hospital, clinic or community pharmacy, your health-system pharmacist is an experienced resource on your care team. They are the medication specialists, so they can help you understand your treatment plan and answer questions about your medications.

These are the types of questions your health-system pharmacists can answer:

Illustration of a health-system pharmacist discussing medication details with a patient who is receiving fluid through an IV.

Questions about your medications and how they work.

Pharmacists can explain which medications you’ve been prescribed and why they were selected, because often they’ve helped to make those decisions. They will be able to explain how your medications work in the body and interact with each other, too.

Some examples of questions you can ask include:

  • Why do they need to give my antibiotic as an IV, can’t I just take the medication by mouth?
  • How does the chemotherapy my doctor prescribed work and will I lose my hair?
  • How does this pill stop me from experiencing seizures?

Your health-system pharmacist can also answer questions about the management of common diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma.

As a patient, knowing about your medication helps you know if the medication is working. So ask your health-system pharmacist, they’re ready to help.

Illustration of a four scenes in which patients are taking the medications prescribed to them in accordance with their health-system pharmacist's instructions.

Questions about the right way to take your medications.

Health-system pharmacists can answer questions about how you should take your medications, like:

  • Whether you can take your medications together with others
  • If you should have an empty stomach or take your medications with food or drink
  • What to do if you miss a dose, and
  • How your medications should be stored

They can also help you understand how to use your inhaler, use a syringe to administer your medications, and or how to make a medication easier to swallow.

As part of their role as medication specialists, pharmacists compare your new medications with all of those you’re already taking. This helps them ensure the medications you’re prescribed are safe. Make sure to share an up-to-date list of your medications (prescription, over-the-counter, and any dietary supplements such as vitamins) so your pharmacist can give the most accurate answers to your safety questions.

Illustration of a patient engaging in a tele-health appointment with their health-system pharmacist. Interface elements depicting the pharmacist in a video call and a medication side effect are shown.

Questions about side effects and their management.

Almost every medication has side effects. You can ask your pharmacist what symptoms to look for and what to do if side effects arise. They may suggest alternatives to minimize or eliminate side effect symptoms, or work with your care team to adjust your dosage.

Some questions about side effects you can ask include:

  • What side effects should I watch for and what should I do if I experience side effects?
  • When should I call the pharmacist or physician if I experience side effects?
  • Is there a way to minimize any side effects?

Even if you are experiencing a side effect, it is still important to continue taking your medication unless told to stop by a member of your health care team.

Illustration of a health-system pharmacist handing a brochure to a patient. Prescription and money symbols are highlighted on the brochure.

Questions about drug prices, alternatives and assistance programs.

Medications can be expensive, and insurance coverage and copays may change from year to year. If you find the cost of your treatment to be too high, your health-system pharmacist may be able to help.

First, they suggest generic alternatives — identical copies of brand name medications available at a lower cost. You can switch to a generic unless your physician has indicated otherwise on your prescription.

Second, your pharmacist can recommend patient assistance and discount programs. These are available to help people with low incomes get medications for lower cost.

Pharmacists consider helping you afford your treatment an important issue. If you can’t afford your medications, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist if they can help.

Want to learn more about what a Health-system pharmacist does for patients?