Over two-thirds of all doctor visits result in a written prescription medication. Prescription meds are an important part of health care today, especially for those with chronic illnesses.

But with so many written prescriptions, along with easy access to over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements, you could be in danger of not correctly managing all of your medications.

I ask all of my patients to bring a medication list to each of their office visits with me. Knowing the names and dosages of all of their medications, prescribed by me or another physician, as well as anything they’re taking over the counter, is key. This allows me to accurately assess for any potential drug interactions and avoid medication errors. It also gives me the opportunity to educate my patients about each of their medications and empower them with knowledge about their medical conditions and treatment. 

David J. Martinke, DO
Primary Care Physician & Medical Director, Primary Care of Western New York
Chief Medical Officer, Catholic Medical Partners

Avoiding Medication Mishaps

These tips ensure that your medication helps you rather than hurts you:

  • Ask your doctor about any medication prescribed. Doctors are quick to write prescriptions (and patients are quick to take them), but first ask why you’re being prescribed a particular drug. What are the possible side effects? Are there other options to treat your condition? You should also ask about interactions with other drugs. How should the medicine be stored? How will you know if it’s working?
  • Take medicine as directed. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medicine. Don’t skip doses or stop taking a medication without first talking with your doctor. Also don’t take more than recommended, since some drugs can quickly result in overdoses. You should get rid of medication once it’s no longer needed or has expired. Don’t save it “just in case you need it” later.
  • Keep a medication list. This should include all medicines you use, including prescriptions, OTC drugs, vitamins and supplements. Note the names and dosage. Be sure to share this information with any doctor you see and any pharmacy you use.
  • Review your drugs yearly. Each year, go over all medicines, vitamins and supplements you take with your doctor to make sure you’re only taking what you need.
  • Dispose of medications safely. Once a medication has expired or is no longer needed, you should dispose of it. This will help lower the chance that someone accidentally or intentionally misuses the medication.
  • Never take someone else’s medicine. It may seem harmless to take a drug prescribed to someone else, but doing so can be dangerous. The medication may interact with other drugs you take, or may impact a health condition you don’t know about. If you think you need a medication, talk to your doctor.

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Find a Family Doctor Near You
Call (716) 706-2112

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Date Last Reviewed: September 6, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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