Video PSA: Tips for Taking Medicines Safely
Hi, I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ.
Whether you have a brief illness or an ongoing medical condition, medicines are meant to help you.
And you can take steps to make sure you get the right medicine and understand how to use them correctly.
To make this easy, AHRQ has developed a checklist for taking medication safely.
- When you go to the doctor’s office, pharmacy, or hospital, bring a list or a bag with all of your medications. Make sure you include all your prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as vitamins and supplements. If your doctor prescribes a new medicine, ask if it’s safe to take it with all your other medicines and supplements. The list should include how much medicine to take and how often to take it.
- Ask questions about your medicines. Choose a doctor and pharmacist you feel comfortable with and ask them to use plain language when they answer your questions. If you need help, ask a friend or relative come with you.
- Always double-check to make sure that the medicine you have received is what your doctor prescribed. If you’re getting a refill, make sure the medicine looks the same as what you got before. Ask your pharmacist if you think the medicine you received is not correct.
- Ask how to take the medicine correctly. Read the directions on the label, and ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain anything you don’t understand. Make sure you know how often to take it and if you should take it with food.
- And ask about possible side effects. "Side effects" are reactions that are the unintended effects of the medicine, like getting an upset stomach after taking an antibiotic. So ask your doctor or pharmacist what kind of side effects you should look for, and whether they are likely to be serious. Call your doctor if you have a side effect that is serious or doesn’t get better. Your doctor may need to change your medicine or adjust the dose.
You can get the best results from medicine if you take the right ones for you and you take them safely.
I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.