Medication Safety

Keeping track of your medications

Peter Solberg, MD, is our Dartmouth Health Chief Health Information Officer and an infectious disease medicine specialist. In this video, he explains the importance of knowing your medications and shares tips for being safe while taking many medicines.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements can help you live better, and sometimes longer. But, when used incorrectly, they can cause problems. Some medicines can also work against each other. It is important for you to know your medications and to work with all of your health care providers and pharmacists to make sure you use your medications and supplements safely.

Here are some helpful tips you can follow.

Bring your updated medication list to every health care appointment

It can be a written list or an electronic list kept through an app on your cell phone or a portable storage drive. The list should include:

  • The full name of the medication. Be sure to include prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, herbal supplements, eye and ear drops, inhalers, patches, creams ointments, and suppositories.
  • The dosage you take
  • How often you take the drug
  • How long you are supposed to take the medication
  • The form the medication is in (tablet, capsule, liquid, drops, patch, inhaler, suppository, injection, cream, ointment, etc.)
  • What the drug is expected to help you with
  • If you take the medication "as needed," list the symptoms that prompt you to take it and how often you take the medication in those instances.

Use this medication form to get started (PDF).

Also include contact information on your list for all pharmacies you use and health care providers you see.

If your medications are updated at a health care appointment or when you are in the hospital, be sure to ask for a printed copy of the new list.

When you get a new prescription

When you get a new prescription, make sure you can read it and that you ask the doctor how this new medication will help you. It is also important to understand the new medication's side effects and how it may interact with any of your current medications.

Use this list of questions (PDF) to ask your doctor when you receive a new medication.

Other things to remember:

  • When you fill the prescription make sure it has your name on it and the right medication name.
  • Be familiar with your medications and what they look like. If the medication looks different than expected, ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist to double-check the prescription.
  • When hospitalized, do not take medications from home (not even an aspirin) unless you discuss this with your doctor.

Resources for medication questions

If you would like to have your list of medications checked, here are ideas of who may be able to help. Always call ahead to check. If you do not have a list, bag up your medications and bring them in for review. You can also use this form (PDF) to start a list.

  • Brown Bag Medication Review Sessions at the Aging Resource Center (ARC), 46 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH, contact the ARC for dates.
  • Our Outpatient Pharmacy is happy to check your medication list. Call ahead for an appointment: (603) 653-3785.
  • Your local pharmacy may be able to print out your current list of medications.
  • Check with your local senior center to see if they have connections that offer a medication list review.

Using myDH to check your medications

As one of our patients, you can access a free online patient portal available at myDH. To view the medications currently in your electronic medical record, click the "My Health Record" tab, then click "Medications." If you need to make updates to your medication list, there are instructions on the medications page in myDH on how to contact your provider.

Be your own best advocate by taking charge of your medication list. Plan to update it with your health care provider at every appointment.