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Taking Medication Safely

May 05, 2017

Understanding how your medications work is important for your health. You play an important role in your safety, but your doctor and pharmacist are part of the team too. They can help you manage medications and make sure you are taking them safely.

Discuss your medications with your primary doctor at each visit. Bring a list of all your medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal and vitamin supplements.

Ask your doctor questions about your medications and any conditions you are being treated for. Knowing about your conditions and how they are treated will help you understand the importance of your medicines and how other lifestyle changes can improve your health.

Keep an up-to-date list of all medications you are taking in your purse or wallet. Make sure all your doctors (including your dentist) and pharmacy have your medication allergies on file.

Have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy every time. This helps pharmacists recognize harmful drug interactions. Each time you get a new medication filled at the pharmacy, ask your pharmacist the following questions:

  • What is this medication for and how should I take it?
  • How long do I need to take it?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Are there any drug, dietary supplements, or natural medicines that interact poorly with it?
  • Can I drink alcohol while taking it?
  • How long before I see effects?
  • What do I do if I miss a dose?
  • How should it be stored?
info graphic on medication safety