Stay safe! Practice safe use of medications

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Safe use of medications

Ask your doctor about:

  1. what medicines you need to take.
  2. why you need to take them.
  3. how and when to take the medicines.
  4. how long you need to take them.
  5. the effect of this medicine if you are already taking another type of medicine.
  6. the side effects of the medicine.
  7. dealing with side effects.
  8. how to store your medicines.

Tips for safe use of medications:

  1. List them down
    • Keep an up-to-date list of all medicines that you take.
    • Include:
      • all prescription drugs
      • over-the-counter medicines (medicine you can buy without a prescription)
      • herbal medicines
      • vitamins
    • List down:
      • how much and how often you take each one
      • start and stop date
      • reason for taking the medicine
      • who prescribed each one
    • Take this list with you on your next doctor’s appointment.
  2. Labelling
    • Keep all medicines in their original containers.
    • The label on the bottle contains important information about the medicine.
  3. No sharing
    • Do not share your medicines with other people.
    • It can cause them harm.
  4. Organize and keep track
    • If you take several prescription pills at different times in a day:
      • use a day-of-the-week pill box
      • ask for your pharmacist’s help to organize your medicines
      • your pharmacist can help you keep track of your dosage
      • ask about “bubble packaging” or blister packs
  5. Proper storage
    • Store medicine in a dry place at room temperature.
  6. Keep them locked
    • Keep medicines out of reach of children, teens and pets.
    • Lock your medicine cabinet to ensure safety.
  7. Refills
    • If you take medicine regularly, ask about refills.
    • Ask the most number of pills you can have per purchase.
    • Refill before you run out of medication.
  8. Left-overs
    • Take left-over medicine back to the pharmacy. They can safely destroy it.
    • 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

Report medicine side effects to the Canada Vigilance Program.
Call toll free at 1-866-234-2345 or go to the Government of Canada site.
You can help save a life.

Read Know your 9 patient rights and responsibilities.

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