What You Need to Know
All medications, whether they're prescribed by a physician or obtained over-the-counter, need to be handled with care to be safe and effective. The information provided below is intended to help you handle and use medications safely. By taking an active role in your health care, you can help prevent medication errors.
Safe Medication Tips
In addition to keeping an accurate list of your medicines, below are some tips related to medication safety in the home, pharmacy, doctor's office and hospital.
If you have questions about your medications, never be afraid to ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Your health is too important. Speak up!
- Take only the medicine given to you by your doctor or pharmacist. Do not share other people's medications.
- Each time you take your medicine, read the label to make sure you are taking it correctly. If you have questions, call your doctor or pharmacist.
- Never take medicine in the dark.
- Do not stop taking a medication just because you feel better, unless your doctor tells you to do so.
- Do not take medicine out of one bottle and put it into another.
- Put all of your medications in a place where children and pets cannot reach it.
- If you take medicine each day, using a compartmental medication box may be helpful.
- Do not keep medicine in the car, by the stove or in the bathroom, since heat and dampness can affect how it works.
- Check the dates on all medications. Throw away any that has expired or has been discontinued by your doctor.
- If you feel that any medicine is making you sick or causing pain, call your doctor right away.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking new medicine prescriptions and refills to the same pharmacy so that the pharmacy has a complete list of your medicines. The pharmacist can make sure that all of the medications work together and will not make you sick.
- If you use more than one pharmacy, make sure each one has a list of all of your medicines or ask the pharmacist to review your updated Universal Medication Form.
- Ask the pharmacist the name of the medicine and how you should take it. Ask for the information in writing and make sure it matches what your doctor told you.
- Make sure that any medication refill is the same color, size and shape. If there is any difference, ask why.
- If you have any questions about your medicine, ask your pharmacist.
- Always take your updated Universal Medication Form. This will tell your doctor everything you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter products, vitamins and herbals.
- Tell your doctor about any allergies, reactions and side effects that you have had to medicine in the past.
- If you are admitted to the hospital, have your completed and up-to-date Universal Medication Form or bring all of your medicines in their original bottles. Include over-the-counter products, vitamins and herbals.
- Tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies, reactions or side effects that you have had to medicine in the past. Also, write these on your Universal Medication Form.
- If you feel that any medicine is making you sick or causing pain, tell the doctor or nurse right away.
- When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor or nurse to clearly explain what medicines you should be taking and how to take them.
Having and maintaining an accurate list of your medications is key. Sharing this list with pharmacists and physicians is critical in reducing and preventing medication errors.
Palos Health encourages you to maintain a personal Universal Medication Form. The Universal Medication Form is a tool developed for you to keep track of all prescription medications, over-the-counter products, vitamins and herbal supplements that you may take at home. Take this form with you when you see your doctor, pharmacist, etc. Have them help you update it if your medications change.
We recommend that you keep an updated copy of the form in your purse or wallet so it will be available at all times. In the event of an emergency or should you need to call 911, emergency personnel will have access to this vital clinical information. And if you are scheduled for inpatient or outpatient visits, also remember to bring the form with you. Always make sure you keep the form updated and share with everyone involved in your medical care.
Download your Medication Safety Form.