Medication Safety Tips

Be Your Own Advocate

While your safety with your medications is your pharmacist’s greatest concern, you also need to be an advocate for your own health and for the health of anyone in your care. Ask questions. Learn about your conditions and your medications. Know your medication choices and understand the risks and benefits associated with those medications. Your pharmacist can answer questions and provide written information about your medication therapy.

Be Your Child’s Advocate

Children are not small adults. They are three times more likely to experience an adverse drug reaction. As the person who will administer these medications, it is critical that you take every precaution to avoid any medication errors with your children. Take part in all decisions regarding your child’s health and ask questions if you have any concerns.

Know Your Doctor

Know your physician’s name and the name of the clinic. Your pharmacist may need to contact your physician before filling your prescription. If you cannot read the doctor’s name on your prescription, your pharmacist may not be able to read it either. Ask your doctor to print his or her name clearly.

Tell Your Pharmacist About Any Allergies

Some medications may cause an allergic reaction, which can lead to breathing difficulties, skin reactions, and anaphylaxis. Your pharmacist knows which medications may cause problems and can help you avoid these complications.

Tell Your Pharmacist About Any Other Medications

Tell your pharmacist about any other prescription or non-prescription medications, vitamins, herbal remedies, or other dietary supplements that you’re taking. Your pharmacist is trained to understand how medications work in your body and will need this information to ensure that the medications you’ve been prescribed will not interact with anything else that you’re taking.

Examine Every Prescription

Whenever you pick up a prescription, check it over carefully. Make sure that you understand everything on the label, including the dosage and the instructions. Verify that the instructions on the label are the same ones your doctor gave you. Check that the medications you’ve recieved are the same ones you’ve taken before. If there are any discrepencies, alert your pharmacist immediately and do not take or administer the medication until those discrepencies are resolved.

Review Your Medications

Pharmacists are trained in drug therapy management. They can look at all the medications you are taking and determine if they are right for you. Your pharmacist can determine if any of your medications are no longer needed, duplicate another medication’s treatment, interfere or interact with another medication, or could be replaced by another medication that would work better for you. Reviewing your medications with your pharmacist on a regular basis helps ensure that you receive the maximum effectiveness from your drug therapy.

Use a Single Pharmacy

If at all possible, use the same pharmacy for all your medication needs. By using only one pharmacy, your pharmacist will have a more complete list of your medications and can review that list every time you get a prescription filled there.

Take Your Medications as Directed

Follow the instructions provided on how, how much, and how often to take your medications. Do not crush or split your pills unless directed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before changing your medication’s dosage or schedule.

Children are particularly sensitive to dosage amounts, so it is even more important to follow the dosing instructions carefully. Be sure to measure liquid medicines precisely. Your home teaspoon is not accurate enough. Your pharmacist can can show you how to use a marked syringe or a dosing spoon for measuring liquid medications.

Also, give your child’s school or day care provider thorough instructions anytime they need to administer your child’s medications for you.

Do Not Share Medications

Only your doctor and pharmacist can determine a safe and effective drug treatment therapy. Do not take medications prescribed for someone else and do not allow anyone else to take medications prescribed for you. Especially, don’t give medications intended for one child to another child. Physicians use a child’s weight and age to determine the appropriate medications and dosing amounts, so a medication that is good for one child may be bad for another.

Pay Attention to Your Body

By their very nature, some medications may cause side-effects. Pay attention to how you feel when taking your medication. If a new medication makes you feel differently, you could be experiencing a side-effect or an interaction with another medication. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about these symptoms immediately. Your pharmacist may be able to suggest another medication that will lessen these side-effects.