Managing your Medication
Learn how to manage your medication at home and during your hospital stay. Find out how to prevent medication errors.
Medication safety tips
- Do not share your medications with friends or family members
- Return all expired or unused medications to your community pharmacy so they can dispose of them safely
- Store all medications in their original containers out of the reach of children and pets
- Do not mix different pills in one bottle
- Double-check the imprints on tablets and capsules after getting refills
- Follow all directions and warnings on the label
- Call your pharmacist or doctor if you experience any unusual side effects
- Consult your doctor or pharmacist before using over-the-counter medications, vitamins, dietary supplements, natural health products, or traditional medicines, as some do not mix well with prescription medications, and can cause potentially harmful effects
Personal medication list
Your pharmacist and other health-care providers will be able to maintain and review a list of your prescription medications in the provincial PharmaNet database. However, you should keep a list of the over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, dietary supplements, natural health products, and traditional medicines you take. You may need this for any medical appointments, visits to your pharmacist, or visits to the hospital.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, dietary supplements, natural health products, and traditional medicines may not mix well with your prescription medications, so your care team will need to know what you are taking to assess this risk and to avoid any potentially harmful effects.
- Medication duplication: Your doctor, nurse practitioner, and pharmacist can make sure that you are not taking two forms of the same medicine.
- Medication interactions: Your doctor, nurse practitioner, and pharmacist can ensure that you do not accidentally receive a medication combination that might harm you
Accuracy and completeness
- A complete medication list will provide accurate medication information to different health care providers who may not know what others have recommended or prescribed.
- In an emergency, a list can provide medical teams with your vital information quickly and effectively.
- Medication names are hard to remember; in an emergency you may forget what you were taking.
Medication management support from pharmacists
If you are having difficulty taking your medications as prescribed, talk to your pharmacist for assistance.
They can help you to:
- Learn about your medical condition, the benefits and risks of the medication being used to treat it, and how to use specific medication delivery devices (e.g. injections, inhalers, etc.)
- Ensure you are on the right medications for you, at the right doses, and help prevent and manage medication interactions and adverse effects from your medications
- Create a list of non-prescription medications. Keep the list with you at all times and show your doctor or nurse-practitioner
- Organize your medications by guiding you to select a method to meet your needs (e.g. medication organizer or dosette container, and using calendars, timers, or alarms)
- Blister-pack your medications. Blister packs act as a visual reminder of which medication is to be taken when
Medication during your hospital stay
When you are planning a stay in a hospital, it is important to remember a few key things about your medications. Participate in your care and learn more about your medications during your hospitalization:
- Take your current prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, dietary supplements, natural health products, and traditional medicines with you to the hospital. A member of the health-care team may need to see them, or you may need to continue using them if they are not available at the hospital. After you have been admitted to the hospital, ask one of your providers whether or not you should send your medications home with family members if they are not needed at the hospital.
- Ask if there have been any medications added, stopped, or changed and why?
- Ask what medications you need to keep taking, and why?
- Ask how to take your medications, and for how long?
- Ask how you will know if your medication is working, and what side effects to watch for?
- Ask if you will need any follow-up tests, and when you should book your next visit?
- Look at the medications you are taking before you take them. If they look different, ask why. You may be receiving a generic brand, or it may be an error.
- Do not let anyone give you medications without first having them check your hospital ID bracelet. This helps prevent the chance of you receiving someone else's medications.
If you have any questions about your medications, ask to speak to a hospital pharmacist.
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