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Albright College

TIP OF THE MONTH
November

Why We Ask What We Ask

Have you ever gone to your health care provider and left wondering why so many intrusive and often times delicate questions were asked? At times I hear patients commenting "I went in for a sore throat and they asked what medicine I was taking and if I could be pregnant". Occasionally the patients are unhappy that we asked the questions.

Well, there is a method to our madness. Actually every question that is asked is asked for a particular reason. We ask about symptoms of the illness and the duration of the symptoms to help us to formulate a diagnosis. We ask what medications you are taking because some medicines are metabolized very differently in some people and many medications have severe, occasionally fatal reactions when taken with other medications. Over the counter medications and herbal preparations may also cause severe interactions with prescription medications; thus the need to know about those also. If the patient is a female we ask if she is taking contraception. The reason being most patients do not include hormonal contraceptives when listing their medications because they do not think of them as medications. It is also important to know if a female could be pregnant because some medications are teratogenic meaning they may cause malformations to embryos and fetuses. A number of medications are contraindicated in pregnancy. We also ask about allergies to medications because even though the patient may list an allergy to one medicine, they may be allergic to second and third generation medications which precludes us from ordering those also.

In essence, if a health care provider asks you a battery of questions you should feel confident that they are trying to provide you with the best care possible. Please remember in asking the questions, we are not making judgment calls regarding you or your behavior, we are simply doing our job.

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