Taking multiple medications daily can present many challenges.
As years pass, medication lists get longer, making it harder to understand what medications are for and how to take them. There are common practices that make management easier and prevent negative associated outcomes, including consolidated storage, single pharmacy use, updated medication lists and knowing where to find answers to drug-related questions.
It’s helpful to store medications together in a safe location that can serve as a reminder to take them. In addition, using a single local pharmacy will keep medication profiles in a safe, consolidated place as well, and increases patient safety.
Patients use multiple pharmacies for reasons related to pharmacy inventory, cost, insurance issues or inconsistency in customer service. However, if used correctly, the pharmacy serves as a safety net for all medications prescribed by various physicians, and can be a source of complete medication information.
For example, the pharmacy is the final checkpoint for prescriptions from the cardiologist, dentist, primary care physician and other specialty services. However, this is possible only if prescriptions are filled at a single pharmacy.
Contrary to popular belief, pharmacies from different companies cannot view prescriptions on file at a competitor. By filling every prescription at the same pharmacy, that pharmacy can check medications, making certain nothing received from one physician or dentist will interact with treatment from another.
For this reason, using one pharmacy effectively prevents negative medication-related outcomes and provides higher quality health care.
In the event of hospitalization, using one pharmacy can decrease the burden on hospital staff and lead to better inpatient outcomes. To establish continuity of care during a hospital stay, nurses or pharmacists must record medications taken at home. The first place called for information is the local pharmacy.
One can imagine the difficulties faced while verifying home medications if prescriptions are filled at multiple locations. It is important to remember that a complete patient profile, which includes home medications, can result in better outcomes.
Another method to ensure that a medical record is complete is to carry a current list of medications to every doctor’s appointment and pharmacy visit. Keeping this medication list handy could serve as a key reference in an emergency if records aren’t easily accessible.
The last important practice is using local pharmacists to answer any drug-related questions. Answers to medication questions are readily available from your local pharmacist. They are knowledgeable and highly trained individuals who should be used as a resource.
If managing medications is overwhelming, keep these tips in mind and don’t hesitate to seek a pharmacist’s help.
Ashley Aqueche and Greta Upton are fourth-year pharmacy students who are interns in the NorthBay Medical Center Pharmacy Department in Fairfield.