Most Americans will take a prescription or over-the-counter medication from time to time. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more1. They also state that adverse drug events cause 1.3 million emergency room visits and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year. These statistics sound scary, but there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your medication safety.
Here are a few things to consider:
- How many doctors prescribe your medications? If you see multiple doctors who do not share the same electronic health records, your odds of miscommunication or duplicate drugs increase.
- Do you take over-the-counter drugs or dietary supplements? They can pose risks even though they don’t require a prescription.
- Have you been taking your medication for more than three months? Many conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, can require drugs for a lifetime. But for some problems, people stay on drugs longer than necessary.
Here is a list of things you can do to ensure your medication safety:
- Take medication exactly as your doctor prescribes.
- Keep your list of medications updated in your doctor’s records.
- Let your doctors know about any supplements, herbs or over-the-counter medications you take.
- Try to use the same pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions, so that they can help you keep track of everything you're taking.
- Clean out your medicine cabinet at least once a year to dispose of expired medications.
- Keep medications out of the reach of children and pets.
And here are a few things you should not do:
- Don’t change your medication dose or schedule without talking with your doctor.
- Don’t use medication prescribed for someone else.
- Don’t crush or break pills unless your doctor instructs you to do so.
- Don’t use medication that has passed its expiration date.
- Don’t store your medications in locations that are humid, too hot or too cold. For example, the bathroom cabinet may not be the best place for your medication.
See a PIH Health pharmacist at either the Santa Fe Springs or Whittier locations if you have questions about your medications. Visit PIHHealth.org to find location details and additional services and resources to help you manage your medication needs.