Medicine Safety Tips

  • Know the names of your medicines.
  • Complete a Personal Medication List (PDF) and keep the list updated. Take it with you on each visit to your doctor or pharmacist, and whenever you travel away from home.
  • Take your medicines until they're gone. This is especially important for antibiotics. If you are prescribed two weeks worth of pills, don't stop them in a few days “because you're feeling better.” These medicines need to be taken for the total duration of time that they are prescribed to completely clear the infection and keep it from coming back.
  • Read the label each time you get your prescription refilled to make sure that there have been no accidental changes made by the pharmacist. Look at the pills to make sure they look the same as the old ones. If you have questions about these matters, contact your pharmacist immediately.
  • Ask your pharmacist's advice about over-the-counter medicines. Even though they are available without a prescription, they may have definite risks, especially for people taking several medicines.
  • Don't mix pills in bottles with other pills. Keep them in their original container (unless you place them in a dispenser).
  • Don't take another person's medicine or give them yours. Sharing medicines can be dangerous.
  • Be alert for any side effects, especially when starting a new medicine or increasing the dose of an existing medicine. Any new symptom in an older adult should be considered a medicine side effect until proved otherwise. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or suspect that your medicine may be causing problems.
  • Use one pharmacy for all your prescription medicines. This will reduce the chance that you will obtain conflicting medicines from different pharmacies.
  • Ask your pharmacist's advice before splitting or crushing any pills. Some pills should only be swallowed whole and may produce dangerous effects if the pill is altered.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Discard any medicines that you are no longer taking. Having old medicines around the house increases the risk that you or a family member might take them by accident, or that a child might get into them.
  • Keep your medicines securely stored in a safe place, especially if children or grandchildren have access to the house. Abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers has become a more common problem in the last several years.