Keeping a Medication List: What, Why, and How

Published: May 11, 2023
By Bridget Betts, 2023 PharmD Candidate

If you or a loved one take one or more medications, consider keeping an up-to-date medication list that is always easy to access. In this article, we will talk about what a medication list is, why it is important to have one, and how to keep it current and accurate.

What is a medication list?
Medication lists are cards, documents, or even electronic lists that include all your current prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as vitamins, supplements, or herbs. The list usually includes the name of the medication, the dose, frequency, route, and other information about how and when you take each medication.

Why should I keep a medication list?
Any time you visit a new doctor or pharmacy, you might be asked to provide a full list of your current medications. This information tells your provider how your symptoms are treated and helps them make informed changes to your medication regimen. For example, some medications may interact with one another, causing discomfort, or some medications might need a different dose to be more effective.

Reviewing your medication list can help your doctor or pharmacist improve your care. The medication list can also come in handy to train a new caregiver for you or your loved one, or if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation when quick action and assessment by your doctor is needed. It can be overwhelming to have to recall all medications accurately, so this list is a tool that can take some of that stress away.

How can I create a medication list?
There are many different examples of medication cards, and you can download the Medication List template to start your own. There are also many apps that you can use to help keep track of your medications.

In addition to your medications, it is always a good idea to include your patient information and emergency contacts and providers included on your card. You can also document questions you have for your pharmacist or prescribers, so you don’t forget at each visit. Understanding what you are taking and why you are taking it will help you stay healthy. Never be afraid to ask your doctor for an explanation of any of your medications.

How can I keep an accurate, updated medication list?
Medication lists should be updated whenever you start taking a new medication, stop taking a medication, or change the way you take a medication. If you are not sure what the names, doses, or other information about any of your medications are, your regular doctor or pharmacist can help you. It is recommended that you keep a list on yourself or make it available to you at all times.

An accurate medication list will provide a clear picture to you, your caregivers, and all of your doctors or pharmacists about your treatment plan. Be sure to keep it up-to-date and always keep a copy with you.

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