According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, it is estimated that medications are not taken as instructed 50% of the time.

Health care consumers have access to more medication discount options than ever before—which is great. However, with this freedom comes the responsibility of making sure medications are properly administered and managed.

Whether you purchase your medications at the same pharmacy or multiple locations, it is important that you always have on hand one document listing everything you’re taking and that you regularly update this list with your most current medications and medical providers.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, it is estimated that medications are not taken as instructed 50% of the time. This may not be on purpose; instructions are not always easy to understand. Sharing with your providers how you use your medications helps ensure that you are using them correctly.

Here are 7 tips to help you prepare for a comprehensive medication review with your medical provider:

Before meeting with your provider, create a detailed medication list – Include the following information:

  • Drug name
  • The reason you are taking the medication
  • Drug strength (10 mg, 10 units, 10 ml, etc.)
  • How many you take (1 tablet, 2 puffs, etc.)
  • How you take it (swallow, chew, inhale, etc.)
  • How often you take it (once a day, twice a day, etc.)
  • When you last took it
  • How often you miss doses (by choice or accident) in a typical week or month

Share EVERY medication you take with your provider – Make sure you include the following items on your list so your provider can see the full picture:

  • Medications from specialists and other providers
  • Over-the-counter medications as well as herbal medications and supplements. While these medications may be taken without a prescription, it does not mean they are without risk. Sharing this information with your provider helps confirm you are using them safely and that any drug interactions or disease state interactions are being considered.
  • Medications you don’t take by mouth (eye drops, ear drops, creams, ointments, etc.)

Bring all medications to your appointment – When possible, bring the bottles with you. That way you and your provider can review all the details together.

Don’t just answer “yes” or “no” to questions about your medications – The provider should be asking you for details. Questions like “Has anything changed?” or “Are you still taking your lisinopril?” won’t lead to an accurate medication list. If the information is wrong in the computer and the provider does not confirm the details with you, it will still be wrong. Tell your health care provider how you are taking your medications and ask them to go over the details using the list mentioned above.

Be honest – Always share with providers if you are not taking all your doses of medication. For example, if your blood pressure is higher than it should be at the appointment and you know you’ve been skipping a few doses each week, let your provider know. Without this information, you could end up on a higher dose — or with an additional medication — resulting in higher cost, more side effects and less control over your health. It might seem hard to be honest, but it is best for your health.

Keep your list on you – Carry your medication list in your wallet or on your phone using a medication list app. You can also ask if your provider’s office has a portal you can print from or an app you can keep on your phone.

Request the information you need to best take care of your health – In addition to your local pharmacy, many medical practices have a pharmacist on their team. Find out if your office has a pharmacist who you can contact. Not sure what to ask? Refer to this list for medication questions to ask your pharmacist or any health care provider.

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