Medication safety is always at the forefront of my mind as a nurse, as a mother, and as a patient. I am diligent in managing medications safely and appropriately. Medications have a huge impact on your health both positively and negatively. They are powerful little tools that could impact your health for the rest of your life. They deserve our respect and our attention. That is why I am always surprised when my patient doesn’t know what medications they are on or what they are used for. Medication safety can be achieved in 5 simple steps.
1. Keep a Medication Record for each person in your family. Remember that over the counter meds and supplements are considered medications and should be included on your list. Store the list in your wallet, in your glove compartment of your car (put several copies in your car) and on your refrigerator for easy access at all times. A medication list should include each medication that you take, the dose and frequency of the med. Don’t forget to list and drug allergies you have on this list as well. You can take this one step further by listing each of your diagnoses and surgical procedures you have had.
2.Bring your medication record with you every time you visit the doctor’s office or for a procedure or hospital visit. Since you have a copy or two in your glove compartment you will never need to worry about forgetting it.
3. Ask questions when you recieve a new medication prescription. Make sure you know what the medication is used for, how it is best absorbed and its effect on your liver and/or kidney function. Ask you doctor or pharmacist if your new prescription has any interactions with your current medication regime, including your over the counter meds.
4. Don’t take anyone elses medications and don’t share your meds with anyone else. Medications interact with each other and can cause serious side effects. Furthermore, people can have severe allergic reactions to medications often leading to death. This is simply not something you want to be responsible for.
5. Don’t take any medications that have expired. Medications that have already expired break down over time and become less effective. There is also some concern about increased toxicity on the liver and kidneys with expired medications. Having said that, most expired medications won’t hurt you but since we don’t really know which ones are detrimental, don’t take them.
Medication safety is part of yoaur health maintenance regime and requires your attention and awareness. These five simple tips for medication safety are easy yet important to follow. Simply stated, medication safety is good for your health.