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Taking Medication Safely

June 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 long should I take it?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • Are there any drugs, dietary supplements, or natural medicines that would interact poorly with it?
  • Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking the medication?
  • How long does it take to notice the effects?
  • What happens if I miss a dose?
  • How should it be stored?