My Medicine List
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
Why it’s important for your patients to carry a medicine list:
- It reduces medical errors and improves patient safety in our community in a practical and cost-effective manner.
- It empowers every person to maintain a current list of every medication he or she is using and to share it with all health care providers at each encounter.
- It improves quality and effectiveness of medication safety for your patients.
- It reinforces medication education and improves compliance for your patients.
- It supports medication reconciliation processes.
How can you help?
- Refer your patients to this website, my medicine list.org.
- Use the resources on this site to extend the reach of this initiative. (For example: publish the article for patients in a newsletter intended for patient audiences; print the poster for your exam room or pharmacy.)
- Ask every patient about his or her medicine list at each encounter.
Remember: what you don’t know about your patients could harm them!
Click here to see available resources, including a slide set developed for use with the lay public.
Where has your My Medicine List button been?
Who: Teresa W. Brown, RN, Case Manager, Pacific Medical Centers
Where: “My button lives on the outer pocket of my backpack that I use commuting between Issaquah and Beacon Hill. I ride both a suburban express and the #36 that travels up Jackson Avenue and down the length of Beacon Hill. The first questions about my button were from a fellow rider on my suburban bus, who said that his wife had just been in the hospital and had come home with several medications.