updated 9/13/2006 10:51:51 AM ET 2006-09-13T14:51:51

  • Make a list of all drugs you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, nutritional and herbal supplements. List all of your doctors. Keep a copy in your wallet and give one to a family member.
  • Ask your doctor to check the list for potential bad interactions when getting a new prescription or samples of a new drug. Remind your doctor of any allergies.
  • When getting a new prescription, ask for the patient information sheet. Have the doctor write the reason for the medicine on the prescription. Learn how it should be stored and how long it may take to work.
  • If you have trouble swallowing a pill or capsule, do not chew, crush or mix it in a fluid. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine comes in a liquid. In the hospital, don’t let anyone give you medicine until they check your patient bracelet.
  • Flush old and expired medicines down the toilet.
  • If you use more than one pharmacy, make one your primary location and have it keep a complete list of your medications.
  • Schedule a “brown bag checkup” with your primary care physician, where you bring all of your medications and over-the-counter products in their containers. This allows an expert to look for any potential problems.
  • Source: Institute for Safe Medication Practices; National Council on Patient Information and Education.

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