Everything You Need to Know About Prescription Medications in Your Medicine Cabinet (Part 1)

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Americans are no stranger to taking prescription medications. The average medicine cabinet reads like a very intimate biography of the various health conditions that one has dealt with through the years. The Mayo Clinic reports that 70% of Americans take at least one prescription medication and that 50% of people take two drugs daily. And naturally as people age and deal with more complex health conditions, it comes as no surprise that 20% of Americans are managing to take 5 pills daily. And as you look through your own collection of pill bottles, you may even feel overwhelmed with questions such as, “How can I remember to take all of these as the doctor has ordered?”, “What about meds that have expired?” This first part of a two-part series explains the answer to that first question, “How can I remember to take my medications as my doctor has ordered and what tricks can I use to keep my medications organized?”

Staying Organized While Managing Multiple Prescription Medications

If you are one of those Americans taking 5 or more pills a day, you no doubt are very welcome to the idea of getting organized. The following are tips to help you stay organized.

1. Make a List and Keep it Current

Keep a current, up-to-date list of all non-prescription and prescription medications that you are taking. Ideally, you can either keep this log in a computer spreadsheet that allows for easy updating and deletion of medications you are no longer taking. If keeping a computer log is not possible, you should have a dedicated notebook for this purpose. Important columns of information that you should include are:

  • The date your medication was prescribed by your doctor.
  • The name of the doctor who prescribed your medication.
  • The name of your medication.
  • The dose of your medication that you are required to take.
  • How many times a day you are required to take your medication.
  • The time(s) of day you are required to take your medication.
  • The health condition that your medication has been prescribed for.

Having such a concise list will not only help you to stay organized, but will also help your family members or health aides who are assisting with your care. 

2. How to Fill Your Pillbox

A pillbox is an excellent way to stay organized and ensures that you are taking all the pills that are prescribed for a given day. The beauty of the pillbox is that if you have a question of whether or not you took a pill, you can look back at the pillbox and see if there are any pills that were forgotten. 

3. Using a Calendar to Keep Track of Your Medication Schedule

Another way of staying organized is by keeping a small calendar handy, perhaps at your breakfast table. As you take your pills, you can make a note of this on your calendar for the given day and even notate the time it was taken. Even better, you could write the name of each medication in every day’s slot at the beginning of the month. Then, as you take your medications each day, you can jot down a checkmark to signify that you did indeed take your pill. 

Staying organized requires forethought and effort but is worth the peace of mind it brings. Perhaps you still have questions such as, how to keep track of expired prescription medications and what you should do if you have trouble swallowing pills? The next article in this series will address those questions. 

For more informative articles on healthcare, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog.

How to Reduce Prescription Errors in 21st Century Pharmacies

It may seem like a contradiction but the pharmacy of the 21st century will feature both robotic automation and greater interaction between pharmacists and patients.

prescription pharmacyPharmacy automation has been steadily making its way into many pharmacies throughout the country. Robotic systems from companies like Aesynt, Parata Systems and RxMedic sort and dispense pills, which spares pharmacists from work that takes a lot of time and can lead to human error. It’s hard to put a firm number on presciption errors but the Food and Drug Administration says it has received close to 30,000 reports of medication errors since 1992. With many pills looking alike and many drug names sounding similar, automated systems offer a better way of checking and verifying that patients receive only drug they were prescribed.

Another technology development that will change the pharmacy of the 21st century is the adoption of electronic prescribing, which gives doctors the ability to send prescriptions electronically to a pharmacy. E-prescribing reduces the chances for error that can come from misreading a doctor’s handwriting.

As for the pharmacists themselves, the evolution of pharmacist training is changing the profession. Compared to decades ago, today’s pharmacists can be more specialized and they enter the field with more specialized training, pharmacy consultant Ernest Gates tells Drug Topics. Some of these pharmacists will work in specialty pharmacies in areas such as oncology, geriatrics and diabetes among other areas of specialization.

Pharmacists who aren’t specialists can still expect to take on more responsibilities as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act. With the law’s expansion of Medicaid, Daniel Brown, a pharmacist and professor at the pharmacy school at Palm Beach Atlantic University, tells Medscape that he expects community pharmacies to see more Medicaid prescriptions. He also sees the increase in this patient traffic presenting additional opportunities for pharmacists to talk to patients about preventive services. Here’s where pharmacy automation is important. Automation doesn’t replace pharmacists. Instead, it provides a remedy to busy pharmacists – these systems free pharmacists to spend more of their time counseling patients instead of sorting pills. If the expected increase in patient traffic to pharmacies holds true, time savings found with automation will become very valuable.

For more information about emerging pharmacy trends, please contact us.