Every healthcare provider will ask you for a list of your current home medications. This process, known as medication reconciliation, is an important part of your medical care. An up-to-date, home medication list helps your healthcare provider prevent medication interactions, improper medication doses, and possibly fatal medication errors. A personal medication list is only as good as the information you provide. As a patient, having a detailed and current home medication list is an important step in managing your health.
Most Americans are prescribed large numbers of medications. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), more than 60% of adults in the U.S. over the age of 65 take at least five medications each week. It is estimated that 15% of adults take at least 10 prescription medications. As most of us visit numerous healthcare settings throughout our lives, changes in medications and dosages happen regularly. This makes most of us wonder what is the best way to keep track of home medications.
It can be helpful to bring your prescription pill bottles to your healthcare provider. In most cases, a nurse is available to sit down with you and document each medication. Together, you will create a list that is detailed and easy to understand. A copy of your new medication list will be given to you for your records. All future changes in your medication record that occur at that facility will be documented in your medical record. This is an effective way to maintain your current medication list. However, the list you create at one facility may not reflect the changes made by other facilities.
If you are a patient at numerous healthcare providers, creating a typed or handwritten medication record can be a more effective way to document your home medications. This list needs to be given to each healthcare facility. Handwritten lists are entered into your medical record at each medical provider. When creating your own home medication list, include the type of information your healthcare provider will need. A detailed medication list should include the full name and prescribed dosage for each medication.
Documenting the timing and frequency that you take each medication is also helpful. Certain medications, when taken at the wrong time of day, can cause them to become less effective or increase side effects. Also, make a note of the reason you take each medication. If you don’t remember, that’s okay. Finally, don’t forget to include over-the-counter medications on your list. Even though they are not prescribed, they can still cause dangerous drug interactions.
For help creating a medication list at home, various apps are available that can organize all your medication information. This choice is appealing because electronic lists are easily available and can be shared with family and friends. Many people enjoy the ease of use and convenience of keeping their medication lists on their smartphones and computers. Apps, such as Carezone, allow you to scan medication bottles with your smartphone to create a detailed medication list. This list also includes important information about each medication, its side effects, and any warnings or possible drug interactions. If taking medications on time is a challenge, many medication apps even have a reminder setting.
The next time you visit your healthcare provider, be prepared. Bring in your pill bottles or have the doctor look over your medication list. Your healthcare provider will appreciate not having to create your home medication list based on pill color. Keeping up to date information about your home medications allows you, as the patient, to actively participate and direct your medical care.
Stacia Donaldson is a Legal Nurse Consultant, skilled in Clinical Research, Nursing Education, Medical-Surgical, Patient Education, and Patient Safety. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in Registered Nursing from Mount Saint Mary College. She can be reached at: StaciaDonaldsonRN@gmail.com.