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Staying organized is an Rx for prescription safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a quarter of Americans currently take three or more prescription medications. Managing multiple medications can be complicated, especially when many medications interact with each other.
One way to keep track is to create a list of all the medications you take. Share this information with your pharmacist and primary care physician. They can help make sure you don’t have duplicate prescriptions or mix the wrong medications, which can cause adverse side effects.
“Be open with your health care team about every pill you take, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications,” said Kevin Poe, PharmD, BCPS, clinical pharmacy manager at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “If you notice unusual side effects, speak up. We can often find alternative prescriptions or adjust your medication list to help you feel better.”
“To make medication management easy, consider using the same pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions,” said Carrie Schanen, PharmD, managed care pharmacy specialist with KentuckyOne Health Partners. “Create a relationship with your pharmacist. That way, he or she knows you and your history.”
Poe recommends asking your pharmacist for tips about organizing your medications. Your pharmacy may recommend tracking apps or sell color-coded pillboxes to sort medications.
“Having a routine can help you remember when to take your medications,” Schanen said. “Try pairing each dose with a memory trigger, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.”
Pharmacists are there to help you get the most out of your prescriptions and make sure you take them safely. Always follow their recommendations for handling, storing and taking medications. Keep prescriptions in a dry location away from sunlight, preferably not in the bathroom where humidity can be an issue.
“Be aware of what medications you take and why you take them. You are your own best safety and health care advocate,” said Poe.
This story originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.