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Dos and Don'ts for Prescription Medications

IMAGE Medications can have serious side effects when they are not taken properly or when they are combined with other over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, supplements, or natural remedies. Here are some simple "dos & donts" to help minimize negative consequences.
  • DO follow the exact dose and schedule prescribed by your doctor.
  • DO ask your doctor about any possible side effects to watch for, and report any that you experience.
  • DO ask your doctor about any and all over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, supplements, or natural remedies that you are taking or want to take.
  • DO talk with your doctor about over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, supplements, or natural remedies if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Some medications or supplements may not be safe during these times.
  • DO ask your doctor or pharmacist how to take your medicine properly (ie, with or without food?, with or without milk?, with extra water?).
  • DO tell your doctor about past problems you've had with drugs, such as rashes, indigestion, dizziness, or appetite loss.
  • DO keep a daily record of the drugs you are taking.
  • DO review your drug record with each of your doctors at each visit, and when any doctor prescribes a new medicine.
  • DO ask your pharmacist for large print if you cannot read the label.
  • DO check the expiration date and throw out any expired medications.
  • DO call your doctor right away if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • DO plan ahead for refills so that you don't run out.
  • DO NOT stop taking a prescription drug unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • DO NOT take more or less than the amount prescribed.
  • DO NOT mix alcohol and medicine unless your doctor specifically says it's okay.
  • DO NOT take medications prescribed for someone else.
  • DO NOT let anyone else take medications prescribed for you.
  • DO NOT crush tablets unless you check with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medications (eg, long-acting formulations) have special coating and cannot be crushed.

RESOURCES

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices http://www.ismp.org

US Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html

Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety http://mbips.ca/

References

The National Women's Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/ .