Medication Safety Week takes place the week of April 1-7, 2013. Each day has a distinct focus to raise awareness, help reduce risks of taking wrong medications, and generally prevent medication errors. The different focus days include:
- Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet: On April 1, you should clean out your old medications and prescriptions, as drugs expire and lose their potency over time. You can dispose of drugs safely by participating in a drug take-back or collection program. Ask your local pharmacist about it or find out what your community is doing for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27.
- Know Your Medicines: If you don’t already have a list of medications you are taking, make one on April 2, or update your list with your current medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, patches, supplements, and vitamins. Also, learn the generic and brand names of your medications and why you are taking them.
- Read Medicine Labels Carefully: On April 3, verify that you are taking your medications correctly. Look at the stickers and labels on your prescription containers to note the dose, route, and frequency of your medicines. Make sure you are taking what you doctor ordered and the way he ordered you to take it. Sometimes pharmacy mistakes can happen, so be careful.
- Be Aware of Dietary Supplements: If you haven’t discussed with your doctor or pharmacist the herbal medicines and dietary supplements you are taking, do so on April 4. Unfortunately, some supplements can react with other medications you are taking.
- Organize Your Medicines: On April 5, organize your medications by keeping them in their original container and sort them for ease of use, for example whether you take them in the morning, afternoon or evening. Also, a medicine pill box organizer may be helpful; however, note that it can be risky.
- Transitional Care Awareness: April 6 is a day to remind yourself to be diligent when communicating with your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist to ensure you understand what medications you are taking, how to take them, and what both the generic and brand names are. If a change in medication occurs, be extra cautious and ask questions.
- Better Communication with Health Professionals: On April 7, talk to your pharmacist about the medications you are currently taking to find out if there are possible risks or side effects. Never hesitate to ask your pharmacist or doctor questions about your medications.