Why be medicinewise? Ask your doctor the right questions

17 July 2013

During Family Doctor Week (15-21 July 2013), NPS MedicineWise is highlighting the importance of asking your doctor the right questions about your medicines and medical tests.

GP and clinical adviser at NPS MedicineWise, Dr Andrew Boyden, says that being an active partner in your own health care is the best way to get medicinewise and make the most of your visit to the doctor.

“Asking your doctor questions will help you get better results from your medicines, avoid side effects , understand the risks and benefits of medical tests, and enjoy better health – which is something we all want,” says Dr Boyden.

“Of course, if you don’t have a GP or a medical practice you visit regularly – a GP home where you and your medical history are well known – it may be more difficult to ask the right questions about your health, your medicines and medical tests.

“Being prepared and talking openly with your health professional is so important. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any concerns, about your treatment options and their risks and benefits. It’s also important to discuss any side effects or problems you’re having with the medicines you are taking.”

To help people prepare for a visit to the doctor, NPS MedicineWise has produced an easy-to-use online tool that allows you to create personalised questions to ask your doctor.

Suggested questions cover the brand name and active ingredient of any prescribed medicines; how to take the medicine; expected benefits of taking the medicine; possible side effects; and whether there are any other treatment options available.

The online tool also includes specific questions about medical scans and X-rays as well as illnesses like respiratory tract infections including colds. It also allows people to include their own questions about specific health concerns and space to write down notes during their appointment.

Dr Boyden suggests printing the questions generated by the tool and taking them along when you visit your doctor.

“Preparing your medicinewise questions in advance and taking them along to your appointment will help you to remember what you wanted to ask and to get the information you need.

“It’s also important to remember some of the answers might also be available from other reliable medicine sources such as the consumer medicine information (CMI) leaflet for your medicine that your doctor or pharmacist can print off for you or you can download from the NPS MedicineWise website.

The question-building tool is available free on the NPS MedicineWise website.

For information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, people can call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au or Erin Jardine on (02) 8217 8733 or ejardine@nps.org.au