What is the one thing that nearly everyone coming to the hospital has in common? Medications. We all have taken medications or supplements at some point. Carrying a list of all the medicines you currently take may save your life.
Your medicine can keep you well, ease your pain, and even save your life. But it can also hurt you. That's why it is so important for all of your healthcare providers to know about every single medicine you take. This includes prescription medicine, non-prescription medicine, alternative medicine and even dietary supplements.
The following are answers to frequently asked questions.
What can you do to prevent problems with your medications?
Make a list of all your medications. Include a description of what each medication is treating, the strength of the medication, how often you take it, and the name and number of the doctor who prescribed it. Share that list with your doctors, pharmacist and other healthcare providers.
Why should I bring my medications?
…to the doctor’s office?
Your physician may not be aware of medications prescribed by other doctors, or any over-the-counter drugs you might be taking, such as vitamins and nutritional supplements.
…to the Emergency Department?
This is a critical time to have your medications with you.
- The Emergency team is not familiar with you or your health history.
- The Emergency team does not know what medications you take.
- Depending on your illness or injury, you may be unable to tell the Emergency team what medications you take.
To prepare for an emergency situation, make sure a loved one knows where you keep your medications (or your medication list) so he or she can bring them to the hospital.
…to my pre-surgery appointment?
If you are scheduled for surgery, you’ll most likely have an appointment scheduled with our pre-anesthesia testing team. They will meet with you to discuss the steps you need to take to prepare for your procedure. It’s important to have all your medications with you at this appointment because some medications—for example, blood thinners like Coumadin—can potentially cause life-threatening problems during surgery.
What do I need to bring?
- All prescription medications
- All over-the-counter medications
- Any vitamins or supplements (including nutritional or herbal supplements)
- Eye drops
Physicians prefer that you bring the actual medication bottles with you. However, if you choose to bring only a list with you, make sure the list is up-to-date and includes the dosage that you take each day. If you have questions regarding your medications and what you should bring with you to appointments, speak with your physician or pharmacist.
How do you use your personal medicine list?
- List all medicines you take. This includes any without a prescription like eye drops, skin patches, vitamins, herbal supplements, etc.
- Use a pencil so you can make changes.
- Keep the card up-to-date. If you or your doctors make any changes, add or take away those medicines.
- Take the card with you anytime you go to a hospital, clinic or doctor.
- Check refill dates on the label of prescriptions so you don't run out of medicines.
- Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to help you learn more about your medicines and how to take them safely.
What else can I do?
- Remember to keep track of allergic reactions or other problems.
- Make a list of any allergies or problems you have with medicines, foods, latex, etc., and what happens to you when you take or use them.