Get Started: Know Check Ask for people who use medicines and their families

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Know your medicines and keep a list

Check that you're using the right medicine the right way

Ask your health professional if you're unsure

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Our video explains some of the reasons you may like to consider keeping a list of your medicines

 

Select My medicines list to download a copy

My medicines leaflet pic

 1. Know your medicines and keep a list

Knowing what medicines you take and how you take them helps everyone involved to make correct decisions about your care.

Healthcare professionals need to know all of the medicines you are taking, to check that medicines and combinations are effective and safe.

Having an up-to-date, written or printed list of your medicines can help:

  • when you might not be able to remember your medications, for example, at an appointment or in an emergency
  • reduce the change of errors
  • when requesting a repeat prescription from your GP. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself
     

What do I need to do?

You can get a copy of the "My Medicines list" here or from your pharmacist. You can also ask your local pharmacist or GP to print out a copy of your medicines for you. 

How do you fill in the list?

To fill out a My medicines list you need all your medicines in front of you.  Include all the medicines you take regularly and occasionally. 

All medicines count, including:

  • prescription medicines - don’t forget to include inhalers, patches, injections, creams, eye drops and any other prescribed products etc and include the strength of each medicine (e.g. 50mg), how much you take each day (e.g. 2 tablets) and the time (e.g. at night)
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • vitamins and other supplements
  • herbal, homeopathic or alternative medicines

The list should also include:

  • any allergies you have
  • the contact numbers of your family doctor and pharmacist

Tips

Some people find it useful to keep a photo of this list on their phone. Another option is to take a photo of your medicines with the labels in full view. 

It can be helpful if you share this list with a family member or carer.

If you need help filling out My Medicines list, you can ask for help, for example, from a family member or friend.

When can you use this list?

Bring this list with you when attending any healthcare appointment.  This might include:

  • Your own GP or an out of hours GP
  • A hospital specialist or consultant (seen at an out-patient appointment)
  • Your pharmacist
  • The doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you attend the Emergency Department
  • Your dentist
  • A public health nurse e.g. after discharge from hospital

Do not assume your healthcare team member will have this information. 

Changes to your medicines?

It’s important to keep the list up-to-date.  Before leaving your appointment or being discharged from hospital:

  • Ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse to explain any changes to your medicines.
  • Find out which medicines to stop, which to continue or which new ones to start.
  • Keep your list up-to-date by adding any new medicines to the list or drawing a line through any medicines you no longer take.
  • Start a new list if you need to (My medicines list).  You can also ask your pharmacist to print a list, and you can add any other medicines you take (e.g. over the counter, herbal, supplements).

2. Check to make sure you are using your medicines the right way

Medicines can help improve the quality of our lives in many ways, for example, by treating or preventing illness.  It is really important to follow the instructions which come with a medicine carefully as this will help you use your medicines in the right way.

Tips on using medicines safely:

  • For medicines which are prescribed for you, the dose instructions are on the pharmacy label.  If you buy a medicine over-the-counter in a pharmacy, the instructions are on the package.
  • Never take a medicine that was prescribed for someone else.  It may not be safe for you.
  • Don’t share your medicines with anyone else.

All medicines come with a package leaflet which is sometimes known as a patient information leaflet.  It is important to read this information as it helps make sure your medicine is right for you. 

  • The package leaflet will tell you about any special instructions for your medicine.  It will also tell you if there are side-effects you should look out for and what to do if you think you may have a side-effect.
  • If you do not have a package leaflet for your medicine, you can ask your pharmacist for one
  • This information is also available on the Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)
  • In the section called Find a medicine enter the name of your medicine then click on the PIL button. You will find this to the right of the name of your medicine.
  • If you have any other questions about how to use your medicines, ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse. 

How to take medicines safely - HPRA (PDF, 376KB, 5 pages)

What about side-effects?

While most of us take medicines without any problems, all medicines have some risks and some people can develop side-effects. 

A side effect is when something unwanted or unintended happens after taking medicine. In many cases, side effects to medicines are mild and you can continue to take the medicine. However, for some people, the side effects can sometimes be more serious. They may need a change in their medicines or, in rare cases, some additional medical treatment.

It is important to look at the risks associated with medicine in the context of the overall benefit of the medicine to your health and the condition being treated. 

Medicines and side effects - HPRA (PDF, 376 KB, 5 pages)

What are the dangers of buying medicines online?

Buying prescription medicines on the internet might seem like a good idea but there is no way of knowing how safe these medicines are or if they will work properly. At best, you could simply be wasting your money. At worst, these medicines could cause you serious harm.  More information can be found in this leaflet (to access the full document, please select picture)::

The dangers of buying medicines online - HPRA (PDF, 400KB, 2 pages)

 3. Ask your healthcare professional if you're unsure about your medication

Communicating with your doctor, pharmacist and/or nurse is a really important part of making sure you get the most from your medicines.

Sharing your experience about your medicines is really important. If you find a medicine hard to take, or if it seems to be causing side effects, you and your healthcare professional can discuss how to change your medicines to suit you better.

If you want to stop, reduce, or think you need more of a medicine, discussing this with a healthcare professional can mean you do this safely.

Video: 5 Moments for Medication Safety

The 5 moments for medication safety are key moments when you can check you are getting the most out of your medicines.

An App is available to guide you through the 5 moments for medication safety and is available free of charge via the App Store and on Google Play.  Search for “WHO Medsafe”.

This video tells you about the 5 moments for medication safety. It also suggests some questions your may want to ask at each of the 5 moments.

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