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8 Tips For Safe Medication Management After You Leave the Hospital

8 Tips For Safe Medication Management After You Leave the Hospital

managing medication

When you’re in the hospital, your healthcare team has processes in place to make sure you receive the right medication at the right time. When you go home, it can be hard to keep things straight on your own. Here are eight tips for safe medication management after you leave the hospital.

When you’re in the hospital, your healthcare team has processes in place to make sure you receive the right medication at the right time. When you go home, it can be hard to keep things straight on your own. Here are eight tips for safe medication management after you leave the hospital.

  1. Consult with your pharmacist on safe medication management
  2. During your hospital stay, your pharmacist will work closely with your physician and other members of your care team to make sure you receive the proper dose of medication for your condition. Before discharge, your pharmacist will go over the medications prescribed by your physician, including potential side-effects and dosing frequency. He or she will advise you on continuing your current medications, starting new medications, and any medications that should be discontinued. During this consultation, make sure you ask any questions you have about safe medication management, including medication dose, frequency or side-effects.

  3. Take medication as prescribed – don’t self-medicate
  4. When you get home, it’s important to take medication exactly as prescribed.

    “The last thing you want to do is say ‘I know better than the doctor; I know better than the pharmacist, I’m going to take my medication this way,’” says Alan Lodder, MA, Pharmacy director at Intermountain Alta View Hospital. “That can put your health at risk.”

    Lodder shares some specific recommendations: Don’t skip doses, increase dose frequency, or stop taking medication without talking to your healthcare provider. It can be tempting to reduce or stop taking medication when you start to feel better. Conversely, it can be tempting to increase dose frequency if you’re in pain, but make sure to discuss any changes with your provider. Medication can’t work unless it’s taken properly.

  5. Keep medication straight
  6. Keeping a list of all medications you’re taking and when to take them can be a huge help in medication management – especially if you’re feeling drowsy or you’re in pain. Some medications can even cause memory impairment, so it’s good to keep a running list of when you last took your medication and how much you took. This is especially important if you’re prescribed multiple medications.

    When in doubt, enlist a family member or friend to help administer your medications. This will increase the chances you’ll take the right dose at the right time.

    “Especially when you’re first home from the hospital or after surgery, you can be confused, so it’s nice to have a family member to remind you when to take your medications so you don’t get too much or too little,” Lodder says.

  7. Get into a routine with your medication
  8. As you’re recovering from your hospital stay, it’s important to make sure you’re in a proper routine with your medications. Setting an alarm on your phone can be a safe medication management tool to remind you to take your medication at the right time. A pill minder is also a medication management tool to make sure you don’t forget a dose.

  9. Be aware of side-effects and drug interactions of each medication
  10. One drug can impact how another drug works, so it’s important to review all medications – prescription and non-prescription -- with your provider or pharmacist. Avoid taking over-the-counter drugs without talking to your provider, since it may have an interaction with your prescription.

  11. Fill your prescription before the last one runs out
  12. This will help to ensure you don’t get off schedule with your medication and where applicable, it helps with pain management.

  13. Store medication properly
  14. Just as your medication takes care of you, it’s important to take care of your medication. Always keep medication in the original packaging and know how to store it properly. Some medications require refrigeration while others simply need to be in a cool/dry place. And if you’re like most people, you probably store medication in a bathroom medicine cabinet, but avoid this when you can, as it lets in extra moisture that may impact the efficiency of the drug.

  15. Call the pharmacist
  16. If you’re worried about your medications after discharge, experience odd side-effects, or if something just doesn’t seem right, call your pharmacist. They can make adjustments to your medication as necessary and keep you on the right track to enhance your health and healing.