Finding out about your condition and possible treatments

Finding out about your condition and possible treatments

Healthcare professionals have a duty to help patients make an informed choice about treatments by explaining the likely benefits and risks. Your healthcare professional should encourage you to ask questions about your condition and possible treatments and should ask if you have any concerns.

Questions you might ask about medicines

  • What are the benefits of this medicine?

  • What are the risks in using this medicine?

  • What effect might the medicine have on my symptoms and everyday life?

  • How long will it take to have an effect?

  • Are there any side effects associated with this medicine?

  • What other treatments are available?

  • What support can you offer me if I decide not to take any medicines?

Your healthcare professional should explain the possible benefits from a treatment and openly discuss the pros and cons.

They should offer you information about a medicine before prescribing it. Information should be clear and easy to understand and should meet your needs. Your healthcare professional should talk about the information with you and make sure you've understood it. If you are staying in hospital you have the right to the same type of information about your medicines.

Information about medicines

Some people want to know more about their medicines than others. The information offered to you about medicines should meet your needs and is likely to include:

  • what the medicine is

  • how the medicine is likely to improve your condition

  • possible side effects, and what you should do if you think you have them

  • how to use the medicine

  • what to do if you miss a dose

  • whether you might need another course and how to get a further supply.

You may be offered other information if you or your healthcare professional thinks this might be helpful.

The NICE guidance says your healthcare professional should suggest where you can find more information and support (for example, from a website such as NHS Choices).

You should ask your healthcare professional for any information you need to make a decision about prescribed medicines.