Transitions of Care-Medication Safety

When we are faced with the troubles of illness and hospitalizations it becomes harder for us and our family members to keep track of what medications we are supposed to be taking. There are many ways to help keep track of the changes to our medication regimen and ways to reduce the risk of having a negative outcome from taking the wrong medication or missing a medication.

Some of the following are easy tips for patients and caregivers to implement to help ensure a smooth transition between home and healthcare settings.

Utilize One Pharmacy One of the main recommendations I have is to utilize one pharmacy for all prescription refills and even over the counter purchases. By utilizing one pharmacy, the pharmacist is able to see all medications that have been filled recently and alert you of any potential interactions or duplications in therapy. It also allows for the pharmacist to check any potential issues when you go to them with over the counter medications you would like to take.

Another very helpful tool is to keep a complete list of all current medications and supplements. This list should include the brand name, generic name, and dosage, time of day, number of times per day taken, and when it was started. Also helpful on this list are what the medication is for and who prescribed it.

Mary Smith’s Medication List-Update 6/22/17

Medication Name Dosage Time Taken Doses per day Date Prescribed Prescriber Used for
Levothyroxine (synthroid) 75mcg 6am 1 5/14/17 Dr. Jones Thyroid
Atorvastatin (Lipitor) 20mg Bedtime 1 5/1/17 Dr. Jones Cholesterol


Make a List Make sure that this list is readily available whenever you have a doctor’s appointment, you visit a clinic, or go to urgent care or the emergency room. The staff in all of these places will want to know what medications you are on so that they can properly diagnose any issues that may come from the medications, make sure they do not prescribe anything that will interfere with any of these medications, and finally to make sure that all medications are continued as necessary. 

Places to keep your medication list: keep a list in your wallet or purse, attach one to the fridge so it is easily accessible if needed by EMS or a family member, and distribute one to a family member that would be present for emergency care.

Ask Questions Always ask for a list of medications you should take when discharged from a healthcare facility and ask questions if you aren’t sure what a medication is for or if you are concerned. Never hesitate to ask questions about your medications.

Megan Gleeson, PharmD, MBA, Director of Pharmacy, Acuity Specialty Hospital of Southern New Jersey