Medication Safety

Medication Safety

Keep a list of your drugs and allergies with you at all times. Take it with you to all of your doctor visits. Include all “over the counter” drugs that you take like Tylenol, Advil, vitamins, herbs and minerals, and any type of “supplements.” If you are allergic to a drug you should wear a bracelet or necklace to let people know. Ask your doctor or drug store how you can get one.

How to Make a Drug List

  • Write your full name and birth date at the top of your list.
  • Write the name and phone number of your primary care doctor.
  • Write the name and phone number of your drug store.
  • Write the name and phone numbers of at least one emergency contact.
  • Write these things down for drugs that you are allergic to:
    • Name of the drug
    • What kind of problem you had with the drug
  • Write these things down for each drug that you take now:
    • Name of the drug (Example: Lasix)
    • What the drug is for (Example: Swelling)
    • Dose of the drug (Example: 20 mg)
    • How much of the drug you take at one time (Example: One tablet)
    • How often you take the drug (Example: Two times per day)
    • The name of the doctor who gave you the drug (Example: Dr. Smith)
    • What day you started taking the drug
    • What day you stopped taking the drug

If You Have Trouble Keeping a List of Your Drugs

  • Ask a family member or close friend to help you.
  • Put all of your drug bottles in a bag and take them with you to ALL of your appointments.

You should let your friends and family know where you keep your list.

When Your Doctor Gives You a New Drug

Plan ahead for drug refills: Before you run out of your drugs call your drug store for a refill. If you buy you drugs through the mail, be sure to know time limits and how to order your medicine.

General Medication Safety Tips

  • Make sure that you know the name of the new drug and why you will be taking it.
  • Make sure that you know how much you should take and how often.
  • Ask the doctor how long you should take the drug.
  • Ask the doctor if there will be side effects.
  • Read the information that comes with the drug before you take it.
  • If you have trouble seeing, use a magnifying glass. You can also ask someone to read it to you.
  • Read ALL of the labels on the bottle before you take the drug.
  • If you think that you are having a reaction to your drug, call your doctor right away.
  • Call 9-1-1 if the reaction is serious.
  • Drugs for infection (antibiotics) should be taken until they are all gone. Do not stop taking them after a few days because you feel better.
  • It is important for you to take all of the drug. It will clear the infection and keep it from coming back. Your doctor will tell you when to stop.
  • Ask questions if you are confused about your drugs.
  • NEVER take someone else’s drugs or give them yours.
  • Take all of your drugs. If you feel better, do not stop taking them. If you run out of your drugs, ask your doctor for a refill. You may also ask your drug store to call your doctor for a refill.
  • Keep your pills in their original container unless you use a pill organizer.
  • If you miss a dose call your doctor or drug store to find out what to do.
  • If you vomit after taking your medicine, call your doctor or drug store to find out what to do.
  • If you accidentally take two doses of any medicine at one time, call your doctor or drug store right away.
  • When you go on a trip take enough of your drugs to last the whole trip.
  • If you are flying, keep your drugs with you in your carry-on so that they don’t get lost.
  • Talk with your doctor or drug store about “over the counter” drugs. They could cause a bad reaction with your other drugs. They can also cause problems for people with certain medical conditions.
  • Never keep drugs that are expired or discontinued.
  • Use the same drug store to fill your all of your prescriptions.
  • Keep all drugs away from children.
  • If you have any questions about your drugs, ask your doctor or your drug store.

There are NO stupid questions when it comes to prescription medication safety.

(ASHP: Retrieved 8/21/2012 from
HeartPoint. Medication Tips (1997) Retrieved
8/21/2012 from