Using Medications Safely

Published: February 27, 2021

Pharmacists in hospitals and health systems play an important role in preventing medication errors. To make sure you use medicines safely and effectively, ASHP recommends that you:

  • Keep a list of all medications that you take (prescribed drugs, nonprescription medicines, herbal supplements, home remedies, and medical foods) and medicines that you cannot take due to allergic reactions, and share those with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Tell your health care provider how you actually take your medication, especially if this is different from the originally prescribed directions.
  • Learn the names of the drug products that are prescribed and given to you, as well as their dosage strength and schedules.
  • Ask if you should avoid certain foods, beverages, other medicines, or activities while you are taking the drug.
  • Ask for any written information available on the drug product.
  • Question anything you don't understand or that doesn't seem right. Be especially alert to unexpected changes, such as receiving a prescription refill that seems to have a different strength or appearance from your original prescription.
  • Show that you understand how to use your medication by repeating information about your prescription back to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you're too ill to follow these suggestions, ask a friend or relative to help.
  • Remember that when you're in a hospital or health system, you can always ask to speak to the pharmacist if you have questions about your treatment or medications.

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