Safety Tips for Taking Medications

1.  Don’t take medications prescribed for someone else.  This can be very dangerous.  Only your doctor knows which medications are safe for you.

2.  Make sure your doctors know about ALL the medications you are taking and if you have allergies to any medications – even over the counter medications and/or herbal supplements.  Some medications and/or supplements can have dangerous interactions.

3.  Keep, use and update a Personal Medication Record.  This will help you to help your doctor with your care.  Update it with each new or discontinued prescription, over-the-counter medication and/or herbal supplement.  

4.  Don’t stop taking your medication just because you are feeling better.  Some medications begin to help you feel better sooner and some later.  In order for it to be most effective in your care, it is important to take the full prescription, unless ordered otherwise from your doctor.

5.  Tell your doctor if you have any type of reaction to your medication.  He or She will be able to assess the situation and prescribe a new medication that may have no or better tolerated side effects.

6.  Take each medication exactly as it has been prescribed. DON'T change your medication dose or schedule without talking with your doctor.

7.  Don’t keep medications that have expired or that you are no longer using.  Keeping your medications current will help prevent you from taking the wrong medication by mistake.

8.  Read medication labels carefully and don’t combine multiple medications in one bottle.  While you might think you remember which pill is which, many medications look similar and they are easily mistaken for one another. Always read the label on your bottle. A medication's label is a key safety feature that can help prevent medication error.  Don’t rely on your memory.

9.  Try to use the same pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions.  This way, if you are prescribed a medication that you are allergic to or that interacts with other medications you are on, the pharmacist will be able to let your doctor know.

10.  Call your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about your medications.  If you don't know why you are taking a certain medication, ask questions! Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to help you understand what your medication is used for. When it comes to taking medications, there are no stupid questions!

11.  Use a medication organizer.  The best way to prevent medication errors is to keep track of them.  Medication organizers help you to do this. They are available at most drug stores and on-line.