Avoiding Medication Problems

1. Be actively involved in understanding health conditions and prescribed medications:

Talk with the healthcare providers
Ask questions
Read trustworthy, reputable online sites
Join health support groups
It is important that everyone involved in the care of an individual is active in understanding their condition, their medication and all the options available to treat them.

2. Have medication and/or a list of medications available at all times to show health professionals in case an accident occurs.

3. Write a medication list that includes:

Names of all medications (including any over the counter medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies)
The doctor who prescribed each prescription medication
The purpose of each medication or the symptoms the medication is supposed to treat
Size and frequency of dosage
Should they be taken on a full or empty stomach?
When repeat prescriptions are required
Be sure to update the list if taking something new, a medicine is stopped, or the dose is changed. GPs and pharmacists should review all medications regularly. Remind them of any allergies or problems encountered with certain medicines. Don’t stop taking prescribed medicine without checking with them first.

Avoiding Medication Problems

Know the following about each drug taken:

Medication name, exact spelling, purpose and whether it is the brand name or a generic substitution
The medication’s side effects and interactions and what to do if they occur
How and when to take the medication (i.e. on an empty stomach, after meals or at bed time etc.)
How long the medication is to be continued and if any blood tests are required for periodic monitoring
What to do if you miss or forget a dosage
How to store your medications (in a refrigerator or at room temperature etc.)
Read the information leaflets provided in the packaging of the medicine. These provide important information to help understand the medication and avoid problems.

For example:

What the medicine has been prescribed for
How to take the medicine correctly
Possible side effects and any interaction with other medications or food substances
Interaction with alcohol
Information on who shouldn’t take the medicine
Serious side effects that mean medication should be stopped
Information as to who is at an increased risk of suffering side effects
Storage instructions


It is strongly advised that you attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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