Patient Safety and Medication Use

There are many factors that health care professionals consider when deciding on your treatment. One of the factors is you – the patient.

The more involved you are, the better your care will be. Your health care professionals count on you to be a partner in your care.

Answer all questions about your health and medical history as truthfully and correctly as possible.

Bring the medicines you take at home, including:

  • Prescriptions
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Vitamins
  • Herbal products

Tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies you have to medications, food or other substances.

If you suspect you are having an allergic reaction to a medication, tell a caregiver immediately.

Ask questions about your medications and about your care in general.

  • Learn as much as you can about your illness, your treatment and your options
  • Write down your questions before each doctor appointment
  • Understand why you are taking the medications that have been prescribed for you
  • Have a family member or a close friend with you at your appointments to help remind you about things you wanted to tell or ask the doctor and to help you remember what the doctor says
  • Write down what the doctor says when he or she answers your questions

Follow the instructions given to you by your doctor.

If you choose not to follow these instructions, you may not get better as quickly, and may even need further treatment.

Ask questions about any concerns you have with your medications.

Often questions arise about your medications when you’re not in the doctor’s office. Just write down your questions, so you can ask at your next appointment – or call the doctor’s office for the answers. Just as you write down your questions, write down the answers; and make sure you understand the answers as written.

Be sure you receive the current prescription from the pharmacy.

  • Compare your prescription, or the information your doctor has given you, with the actual medication
  • Check the medication name, the dosage, how many times a day you should take it
  • Read any caution labels that are on the bottle (see below)

Follow special instructions regarding the medicine, such as taking with food or avoiding alcohol.

Your doctor will give you special instructions, or there could be a label on your prescription bottle that offers special instructions. Following these instructions will help you receive the full benefit of the medicine. Always finish your full round of medicine unless directed otherwise by your physician. Many medications can create stomach upset, so it is  recommended that you take them with food or milk. Other medications cause drowsiness, so it is recommended that you avoid alcohol while taking these medications.