Medications can help us stay healthy, live more fully, and even extend our lives. But when safety measures aren’t followed or they are used inappropriately, they can do a lot of damage.
Following medication safety guidelines can keep you and your loved ones safe. Review and consider these top 10 rules for medication management to help stay safe while using prescriptions:
- Always take medications exactly as prescribed; don’t deviate, self-medicate, or change the dosage.
- Do not use a medication past its expiration date—they may be ineffective or even toxic. Even better, dispose of medications when their expiration date arrives to eliminate the risk of taking them by mistake.
- Create a list of the medications you take regularly, including over-the-counter pills and vitamins. Keep it with you, update it when necessary, and show it to your doctors at appointments.
- As much as possible, go to the same pharmacy for all of your prescriptions. This helps the pharmacy look out for you by keeping tracking of what you’re taking, and alert you to any potential interactions between medications.
- Store medications in a secure place out of reach from children or pets—ideally, in a locked cabinet.
- When traveling, leave medications in their original containers. Do not store pills in baggies or other unlabeled containers. This leaves you vulnerable to confusing medications, leaving pills easily accessible to children or others, or having pills get crushed or otherwise altered during travel.
- Medications should also be stored in a cool place that is not subject to significant changes in temperature or humidity (not the bathroom).
- Never take a medication prescribed to someone else, as this can lead to unexpected interactions between medications.
- Never crush or remove a medication from its capsules. This can alter how a medication breaks down inside your body (especially time-release or long-lasting medications).
- If you aren’t sure of something, ask! Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are all able to address questions about your prescriptions. Never take a medication without being sure you understand your doctor’s directions, or what it will do for you.
Medications important for many of us to maintain our best quality of life, but when something goes wrong, medications can quickly become a serious risk. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by following these important medicine safety tips.