Stay safe! Practice safe use of medications

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When your doctor prescribes medicine, does he or she also explain how the drugs will help you? Do you ask if they will have side effects? Or do you just say thank you and accept your doctor’s expertise?

It is your right to be clear about any course of treatment or medication that a doctor prescribes. You can ask your doctor and your pharmacist. Not only will this help you better understand your health condition, but it also contributes to the success of your treatment. Knowing all that you can about your medication can help you maximize its effectiveness and prevent you from doing things that may lessen its beneficial effect.

Be clear about:

  1. What medications you will be taking.
  2. Why are you taking the medications.
  3. How and when to take the medications.
  4. How long you need to take the medications.
  5. Will it be safe to take this medication if you are already taking another type of medication?
  6. Will there be side effects?
  7. How do you deal with the side effects.
  8. How to store your medications.

Safe use of medications

Here are few tips to ensure safe medication use:

  1. List them down. Keep an up-to-date list of all medications that you take. Include all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal medicine and vitamins. Indicate how much and how often you take each one, start and stop date, reason for taking, and who prescribed. You can take this list with you on your next doctor’s appointment.
  2. Labelling. Keep all medication in their original containers. The label on the bottle contains important information about the medicine.
  3. No sharing. Do not share your medications with other people.
  4. Bubble pack. If you take several prescription pills or a mixture of them several times a day, use a day-of-the-week pill box or ask your pharmacist about “bubble packaging” or blister packs. Your pharmacist can organize your medications to help you keep track of your dosage.
  5. Proper storage. Store your medications in a dark, dry place at room temperature.
  6. Keep them locked. Keep all medications out of reach of children, teens and pets. Lock your medicine cabinet to ensure their safety.
  7. Refills. If you take medicine regularly, ask about refills. Ask the most number of pills you can have per purchase. Remember to refill before you run out of medication.
  8. Left-overs. When you are done with your medication and you still have some left, take them back to the pharmacy so they can safely destroy it. You can also ask your pharmacist for safe ways to dispose drugs you no longer use.

Source: Safe use of medications – It’s Safe to Ask. Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety.

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Community Resources

If you have experienced side effects to any medication, you can report it (after consulting your doctor or pharmacist) to the Canada Vigilance Program toll free at 1-866-234-2345 or at the Government of Canada site. You can help save a life.

Read Know your 9 patient rights and responsibilities to become a more involved and engaged patient.

MedEffect Canada has a section for advisories, warnings and recalls. If there are certain health products, food, consumer products or vehicles you wish to check, go to: Recalls and safety alerts.

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