Taking Medicines Safely
What does it mean to take medicine safely?
Every year, more than one million Americans get sick from medication errors. An example is when a patient takes too much or not enough of a medicine and it makes him or her sick. This can also happen if your doctors prescribe medicines that should not be taken together. The best way to take your medicine safely is to make sure you are taking the right medication, at the right time, and in the right way.
How is medicine safety part of high quality health care?
Your doctor should check with you at least once a year to make sure that you are taking your medicines the right way, your medicines are working the right way, and that your medicines are not giving you unwanted side effects.
How can I be sure that I am taking my medicine safely?
- Be sure that you understand the directions for taking your medicine. Ask your doctor if you are not clear about any part of the directions.
- Always double-check your medicine when you pick it up from the pharmacy. Make sure that it is the same medicine with the same directions that your doctor ordered. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions.
- Always take your medicine the way your doctor tells you to, and know what to do if you forget to take it. Also be aware of side effects that the medicine may cause, and what to do if a problem occurs.
- Keep all medicines in their original bottle or package that has your name, the medicine name, and your doctor's directions printed on the label.
- Keep a complete, up-to-date list of all your medications at home, and always take a copy with you for doctor's appointments or hospital stays.
What questions should I ask my doctor about my medicine?
- Why am I taking this medicine?
- How and when should I take this medicine?
- What are the common problems to watch out for when taking this medicine?
- What should I do if a problem happens?
- What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
- When should I stop taking this medicine?
- Can I take this medicine with the other medicines I already take?
- How will you monitor me to make sure the medication is right for me?