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Safety Tips for People Taking Multiple Medications

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | July 6th, 2016

Medication management is becoming an increasingly important part of healthcare. With an aging population, more medications on the market, and the growing use of specialty medications, the risk of incorrect doses, skipping medication, or combining the wrong medications is a growing concern. For patients and caregivers, managing prescriptions and dosages can be confusing, stressful, and time-consuming. Of course, the more medications patients take, the more likely they are to mismanage them.

Medication Mistakes by the Numbers

  • The average American takes between 2 to 7 prescription drugs daily
  • Approximately 21 percent of patients never fill their own prescriptions
  • 61 percent of patients cannot identify their own medications
  • Medication management is the primary reason people cannot live alone

If you take a significant number of medications to manage serious health problems, it is important to take the right dose of the right drug at the right time. It is also important to speak with a pharmacist or doctor before adding over-the-counter (OTC) products to your regimen. There are a number of things you can do to ensure medication adherence and safety.

Nine Tips for Medication Use

Use the following 9 tips to use your drugs properly and to stay healthy!

  1. Know what you are taking. When it comes to medications–especially powerful medications for serious conditions–what you don’t know can hurt you. The more information you have about the drugs you are taking, the more you will be able to be sure that you are using it properly.
  2. Obey your doctor. It is very important to take each medication exactly as prescribed. If you feel like you don’t need a medication, consult your doctor before stopping. This also means no crushing or cutting of pills (unless your doctor tells you to, of course).
  3. Keep the left and right hands in sync. If you see multiple doctors, make sure they each know all of the medications you are taking. Drug interactions can have serious consequences. This includes OTC medications and supplements.
  4. Make a list and check it twice. A list of medications you take, the doses, and times you are supposed to take them, the size and color of the pill, the correct dosage, and any possible side effects can be valuable if you are forgetful. It can also be helpful to give this information to family members or caregivers who can remind you or simply confirm that you are effectively managing your medications.
  5. Stick with one pharmacy. If you can get all your medications from a single pharmacy, do so. This provides you with another “backstop”–someone who is aware of all your medications and how they might affect you. The pharmacy will also be better able to assist you with OTC medications and how they might interact with your prescription drugs.
  6. Play it safe. Store your medications as directed, away from access by children or pets.
  7. No sharing. You should never take medications prescribed for someone else, even to substitute a similar drug. Nor should you give your medications to anyone else.
  8. Follow the expiration dates. Drugs do lose potency over time. The expiration dates are not suggestions. When drugs do expire, make sure you get replacements promptly and dispose of the expired medication safely. Flushing them down the toilet is not a good idea unless the drug label or accompanying information has instructions to do so.
  9. Keep it real. Don’t remove drugs from their original containers and remove or scratch out identifying information from container labels.

Medication management can be challenging and confusing. One company, Universal Medication Management, offers an electronic pill box that can be filled by pharmacists and programmed to remind you to take your medication and to send an alert to you, a family member, or a caregiver if a medication is not taken on time. Adherence to your medication plan is vitally important. Some 3.5 million hospital visits per year are due to prescription noncompliance. Follow these tips and you won’t be one of them.

Check out our Patient Mangement Center to learn more about what MedicoRx® could do for you.

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