Medicine Safety: What you Need to Know to Stay Safe skip to Main Content

Medicine Safety: What you Need to Know to Stay Safe

Medication gives us the amazing ability to fight diseases, infections, alleviate pain and much more. However, it is important to review medicine safety, especially when you’re taking multiple medications. By using and storing medication correctly, you can avoid dangerous side effects and obtain the full benefit of your medicine.

Tell your doctor about all the medications you are using

Medicine safety - discussing medicineLet’s review what “medications” they need to know about [1]:

  • Prescription medicine: a medication that you can only obtain with a doctor’s order (a prescription). Examples of prescription medication are pills to lower cholesterol, or an asthma inhaler.
  • Over-the-counter medicine: medication that you can buy without a prescription. Examples are cough syrups, pain relievers, pills for headaches or tablets for heartburn.
  • Other medicine/drugs: vitamins, eye drops, supplements and herbal remedies

Because certain medications react differently when taken with certain drugs, your doctor must be aware of all the medications mentioned above you are using. This is to ensure the medication you are prescribed/recommended will work for you, and not react negatively in combination with any other drugs.

Communicate with your doctor

On top of making sure your doctor knows all the medication you are taking; you need to voice any concerns you have with your doctor regarding your medication. See below for a list of questions you may want to ask. You should also communicate any allergies you have, and if you’ve experienced any side effects on this medication.

medicine safety - taking medication

  • Why am I taking this medicine?
  • How many times a day and at what time should I take it?
  • Should I take the medicine with food or not?
  • How long will it take for this medicine to work?
  • When should I stop taking the medicine?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • If I forget to take my medicine, what should I do?
  • Will I need a refill and how would I arrange that?


Keep track of your medications

To stay on top of your medication schedule, it’s highly recommended that you keep a medications worksheet. By writing down the name of the drug, what it’s for, dose and instructions you can keep track of all your medications. You can make one yourself or print it out. Here is an example of a medication worksheet below:

Follow the instructions

medicine safety - reading the medicationWhen you are using prescription medication, be sure to read the instructions and directions carefully, and raise any concerns with your doctor. Take important notice of the amount of dosage required, the time you should take it, and how often you should take it. Make sure you also read the directions of over the counter drugs, which usually vary more depending on what the drug is [2]. Visit this guide  for more information on safely using prescription medicines.



 Store your medicine safely

medicine safety - medication

Medicine safety also includes storing your medications safely. Any special storing instructions will be given, e.g. whether they need to be kept in a fridge, freezer etc. Most medications should be stored in a cool, dry place at room temperature, such as a dresser drawer or your closet. It’s best to avoid storing medication anywhere in your bathroom as heat and moisture from your shower, sink and bath may damage your medication. It’s also best to avoid storing in the kitchen since heat from the stove, sink and hot appliances can also damage your medication [3]. As a general rule of thumb, always remember to keep your medication out of reach from children, for example, on a high shelf. For medication that has expired and medication you don’t use, visit the FDA website on disposing medicine safely.

Modern medicine benefits us a lot, especially as we age, and therefore medicine safety is a crucial topic to learn about. Visit our blogs  and guides pages for more information, and remember to subscribe to our mailing list for updates on health-related topics!


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