Your Medicines

Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your health care provider – doctor, nurse, pharmacist, dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist – at every visit. You are the only person who knows everything you are taking, so this is a way that you can take charge of your health and keep yourself safer. Be sure to include all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbals, vitamins, and supplements. If you are helping someone else with their medicines, keep a list of those also. A list can save a life!

What is a Medicine?

A medicine is any substance that is meant to change the way your body deals with an illness or injury, or to maintain your health and well-being, no matter where you get the substance. Medicine is used to treat or prevent illness, provide relief from symptoms, or improve quality of life. Medicines come in many forms:

  • Pills
  • Creams
  • Liquids
  • Lotions, creams or ointments
  • Inhalers
  • Injections
  • Drops
  • Herbs
  • Suppositories
  • Vitamins

Where Do You Get Medicines?

You get some medicines from a pharmacist, with a prescription given to you by a doctor, dentist, or other healthcare provider. You get other medicines without a prescription from the pharmacist, naturopath, or herbalist, or at the drug store, supermarket, health food store, or on the Internet. Herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements are all medicines; sometimes they are called complementary or alternative medicines.

My Medicine List

My Medicine List is a campaign intended to build public awareness of the need for patients to take an active role in managing their medicines. Sponsored by the Washington Patient Safety Coalition (WPSC), the initiative’s goal is for every person to maintain an up-to-date list of every medicine he or she is using and to share it with his or her health care provider during each and every visit.

What is a Medicine List?

A medicine list is a record of all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbals, supplements, minerals, ointments and vitamins that you use. This list should be shared with your doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, physician assistant, naturopath and dentist every time you visit them.

Why Should I Carry a Medicine List?

“I took all of my medications to my most recent primary care provider visit at the VA. It turns out that two of my medicines were harmful if taken together. My doctor was extremely grateful to see everything that I was taking. She revised my medicines and saved me from a pretty serious harm.” –Lawrence, 62, Mitchell, Nebraska

Fact: 7,000 people die each year in the U.S from preventable errors having to do with medicines while under hospital care (Institute of Medicine Report 2001).

Fact: 82 percent of U.S. adults and 56 percent of children take at least one medicine daily. 29 percent of adults take five or more medicines daily, and 27 percent of children take two or more (Boston University 2006).

Fact: Half of all potential major drug-drug interactions involve a nonprescription medicine. Physicians often don’t know about their patients’ nonprescription medicine use because they do not ask patients, patients don’t tell their doctors, or both (Journal of the American Medical Association 2002).

Take action by keeping a list of all your medicines. People taking care of loved ones (parents, children, neighbors, other relatives) should also keep a list of those medicines, and share it with health care providers.

You should carry a medicine list because this simple action can make health care safer and more effective, and can even save a life.

“My mother is 87 years-old with multiple medical conditions. She manages her own medications and routinely takes around 15 pills a day plus multiple doses of insulin (2 types). She visits several specialty physicians regularly and is asked on each visit to validate her medications. Several years ago we created a medication list where we recorded all her medications with dose, frequency, and indication, along with her medication allergies and a list of all her conditions and prior procedures. She carries this around with her and brings a fresh copy to each physician visit. The physicians’ office staffs all LOVE her organized, clear and concise list which helps them keep accurate records for her. Whenever they comment about her list she proudly announces, ‘Well, my daughter is a nurse!'” –L.N., Bremerton

What’s the first thing you can do? Take action by keeping a list of all your medicines. If you care for someone else, you should also keep a list of those medicines, and share it with health care providers.

You should carry a medicine list because this simple action can make health care safer and more effective, and can even save a life.

Sample Medicine Lists

My Medicine List – French version

“My Medicine List” vous aidera à controller tout ce que vous prennez pour être en bonne santé—vos pilules, vitamines et herbes. Avoir tous vos médicaments dans un même endroit aide aussi à votre médecin, pharmacien, hôpital ou des autres employés de santé à prendre meilleur soin de vous.

PDF version

AARP Medication List

The first page includes directions, personal information and general medical information. The second page includes a simple table to be filled in with list of medicines.

PDF version, Word version

American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists – My Medicine List

The first page includes directions with examples, personal information and general medical information. The second page includes a fairly detailed table organized by times of day that medicines are used.

PDF version

South Carolina Hospital Association Personal Medication Record Form

The first page includes personal information, general medical information and a simple table organized by date that medicines were started. The second page includes directions about how to fill out the table.

PDF version, Word version

Expediente Personal de Medicamentos de La Asociación de Hospitales de Carolina del Sur

La primera página incluye información personal y información médica general junto con una simple tabla que organiza la fecha de cuando las medicinas fueron comenzadas. La segunda página incluye instrucciones en como llenar la tabla.

PDF en Español, Word en Español

Arizona CERT – My Medicines List

The first page includes instructions with examples, personal information, and general information. The second page includes questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist.

PDF version

Arizona CERT – Mi Registro de Medicamentos

La primera página incluye instrucciones con ejemplos y información personal y información médica general. La segunda página incluye preguntas para hacerle a su médico o farmacéutico.

PDF version

The Joint Commission – Speak Up™ My Medicine List

The first page includes a simple table organized by category of medicine. This table includes space for alcohol and recreational drugs. The second page includes directions with personal information and general medical information. This document can be trifolded to fit into a wallet.

PDF version

Harney District Hospital – My Medication List

The first page includes minimal directions with personal information and general medical information. The list of medicines starts on the first page and continues to the second page. The list is not organized into a table form. This PDF version allows data to be entered in and printed but not saved.

PDF version

National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation and American Pharmacists Association – My Medication Record

The first page includes a fairly detailed table with no specific organization. The second page includes personal information, general medical information and a recommended list of questions to ask health care providers.

PDF version

Indiana Community Health Network – Pill Box

This free application for your iPhone or iPod Touch allows you to manage and reference information about your medicines through an informative database. The database can link to your schedule and contacts. You can also keep separate lists for each of your family members or dependents.

Link to download

MyMedSchedule.com

A free web-based or iPhone/Android tool to manage your medication schedule.

Whatcom Health Information Network, LLC – HINET Medcard

The first page includes personal information and general medical information. The second page contains a simple table for listing medications, their purpose, and when and how many to take each day.

PDF version

Other Resources

Your Medicine: Be Smart. Be Safe.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2013

The booklet provides important guidance for safe and smart medication management and includes forms to keep track of information, including a wallet card.

Ask-12

The Ask-12 materials were developed by GlaxcoSmithKline and are designed to help patients figure out what gets in the way of taking medicines as directed, and what to do about it.

Pharmacy Safety and Service – What You Should Expect
National Patient Safety Foundation, 2008.

This fact sheet can help you learn what to expect from your pharmacy and how to take an active role in making sure you receive the correct prescription and dose of your medication.

Taking Care of MY Health Care
National Transitions of Care Coalition

This two-page document is a tool to record a patient’s medical condition, to enter information about care transitions and to document medications efficiently in a tabular format.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the following professionals who volunteered their time and efforts to developing and implementing the My Medicine List initiative.

Planning Committee
  • Chelsea McCall Coblentz, Community Health Plan of Washington
  • Diane Schultz, Group Health Cooperative
  • Jenny Arnold, Washington State Pharmacy Association
  • John Arveson, Washington State Medical Association
  • John Zarek, Swedish Medical Center
  • Patti Rathbun, Washington State Department of Health
  • Steve Riddle, Harborview Medical Center
  • Regina Gallwas, Washington State Health Care Authority (retired)
  • Cathleen Williams, Washington State Board of Pharmacy
  • Sally Watkins, Washington State Nurses Association
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  • Bus ads produced with the generous support of Aetna.
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“Parents, keeping a current list of all the medicines your children use is a great way to partner with providers. Don’t forget to keep your own list updated.”

–Deborah J. Harper, MD, Pediatrician (Spokane) and Past President, Washington State Medical Association Executive Committee