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The Importance of Keeping Your Med List Updated

June 27, 2018

The Importance Keeping your Med List Updated
If you have ever been admitted to the hospital you may have been given a medication pocket card at discharge and been told to write your medications on it and to keep it with you at all times. You may think this is a tedious task and that it’s just another item that will fill up your wallet or get lost in your purse, but it is actually a valuable piece of paper. Below is a summary of what a medication list is, what it should include, and why it is important to have with you at all times.

What IS a medication list?
A medication list is a detailed list of all medications a patient is currently taking that can quickly and easily give your doctor or other healthcare provider the information necessary to provide safe medical care.

What should be ON your medication list?
Your medication list should include all medications you currently take! This includes prescription medication and non-prescription (OTC) meds, vitamins, herbal supplements, etc.

Beside each medication you should also include:

  • Strength of the medication (10mg tablet, 30mg syringe)
  • Directions for use (How do you take it? ½ tab once a day? 2 tabs twice a day?)
  • What you are taking the medication for (diabetes, high blood pressure)

Also included on your medication list:

  • Allergies (allergy, what and when or how long ago)
  • Any vaccinations – especially flu shot and pneumonia shots (month/year)

WHY should everyone have an updated medication list?
Even in this age of technology, it continues to be challenging to share medical information between healthcare providers. Information does not easily flow between your heart doctor, family practice doctor and pharmacy. So when changes are made, you may be the only one who has the most recent information until you see the next provider or need a refill. If there happens to be an emergency, you want to have all that important information right at the doctor’s fingertips. When you go to a doctor’s appointment the nurse can easily update a patient chart if the patient has an accurate medication list to give. Upon admission to the hospital, nurses perform medication reviews with the patient to make sure the patient chart is up to date and to ensure the patient home medications are continued as necessary during their hospital stay. Finally, and maybe most importantly, if your pharmacy doesn’t have an updated list of meds and the doctor hasn’t called/faxed new prescriptions, it’s important to make sure the pharmacist is aware of all the medications you are on. Any you may take OTC or herbal meds that you don’t fill at the pharmacy that need to be checked for interactions with your prescription medications.

Though it may be hard to keep a medication list up to date, doing so will help ensure you will receive the best and safest medical care when in an emergency and when presenting at the doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy.   

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