When medical providers ask for a list of all the medications you currently are taking, it isn’t just a formality. This gives your health care team valuable insight into how, why and when you’re being treated. Unfortunately, studies have shown that about two-thirds of patients are unable to give a full medication list that matches their pharmacy-filled prescriptions. Here are tips from Dr. Daniel McMahon and nurse practitioner Dana Hickman to help you keep track of your medications and share the right information.
Dr. Daniel McMahon
Dr. Daniel McMahon is a board-certified family medicine physician specializing in primary care. He practices with Northside Primary Care Associates in Holly Springs. McMahon prides himself on providing long-term care to patients and their families. To him, the best approach always is a comprehensive one — promoting lasting good health and happiness through preventative strategies and control of chronic conditions.
Dana Hickman is a post-acute care nurse practitioner for Northside Hospital, focused on care for the chronically ill. She provides clinical oversight for the complex needs of patients discharged to a network of preferred post-acute care providers. To help ensure that patients continue to have their health managed most effectively, she collaborates on condition-specific pathways for consistent, evidenced-based care post discharge.
Can I take my medications to an appointment?
Absolutely! One of the most direct and effective methods of completely sharing your medication list is what’s called a “brown bag review.” Simply pack up all medication bottles that you take regularly, or as needed, and bring them to your appointments. Include all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements and herbal medicines. Don’t forget topical creams/gels, liquids/drops, injectables and inhaled medicines.
How do I ensure the most current information is with every provider?
With any medication change — new prescription, dose change or stoppage — update your list promptly. The best list is the one that you find easiest to set up and maintain. This list can be handwritten, from an online template, or created with a medication reminder app on your smartphone. When asked if there have been any changes to your medications, take the time to compare your home list with what your health care providers have on file.
What kind of details should I include in a medicine list?
You always should carry a current medication list in your wallet, purse or on your smartphone. It’s a good idea to share this list with a trusted contact in the event of an emergency. You should include the following on the list: medication name, provider name, purpose/reason for taking, dose/strength, directions (times of day and frequency), form (liquid, tablet, etc.), any special instructions (with food, etc.), drug or food allergies and the pharmacy name.
When should I reevaluate what I’m taking?
As we age, we tend to accumulate medications, as well as over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements. More medications can result in higher incidence of drug interactions. To determine if there is anything you no longer need to take or can reduce dosage of, talk to your health care provider. You can ask questions about whether any symptoms are a possible side effect, if everything you’re taking is still beneficial, or if there are any milder options for medication.
What are some ways I can stay on schedule with my prescriptions?
Even with keeping a good list to reference, there can be a lot to remember. To help, you can use memory aids, medication organizers and/or blister packs to take your medicines as scheduled. If the medication schedule gets too complex to follow, alert your provider or pharmacist.