Just as you wouldn’t go commissary shopping with last year’s grocery list, the same principle holds true for showing up at a medical appointment with an out-of-date list of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and related health products such as vitamin supplements and herbal teas.
But why bother writing all of that down when it should already be on file? And besides, doesn’t someone always review the meds I’m taking when I show up for my medical appointment anyway?
“There are many good reasons for bringing a list of all the medications, supplements, etc., you take when you visit your healthcare provider, and each one of these reasons ensures you receive the safest care possible,” said Col. Curt Hansen, chief of pharmacy at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and pharmacy consultant for Europe Regional Medical Command.
The benefits of keeping good records includes:
• Providing your healthcare providers the most complete and up-to-date record of what you’re taking to assist them in prescribing the safest and most effective medication specifically for you.
• Preventing an adverse reaction by ensuring a new drug isn’t prescribed that might interact with a medication or supplement you’re taking at home, but is not listed on your medical record.
• Improving the quality and time spent talking with your doctor about your care. By providing a list of what you’re actually taking, it allows your provider to quickly and accurately compare it with your previous medical history.
• Improving familiarity with your medications. Patients who keep an up-to-date list of their medications with them gain familiarity with their medications and how to take them. This knowledge is reinforced when you immediately update the list due to a change in the medications, vitamins or supplements you’re currently taking.
• Saving your life.
In addition to the reasons listed above, if you are ever in an emergency where your records aren’t available, having a printed copy of your meds in your wallet will inform your providers about what you’re taking and prevent the possibility of a severe reaction with new drugs used in your treatment.
“It’s about helping people help themselves,” Colonel Hansen said. “It’s critical that patients provide a list at each appointment, especially when you consider all the possible sources where drugs and other products can be obtained – your doctor, the commissary, the base exchange and the German economy – it’s easy to see how any of us could forget something we’re taking that may adversely affect our medical care.”
To help you get started, LRMC provides an electronic medication record you can update on your home computer and print out before your appointment.
For a copy, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject line insert the phrase, “Blank MEDREC Form.”
Medication Safety Points
• Become familiar with your medications and how to take them. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about your medications and supplements to reinforce your knowledge and to obtain answers to your questions.
• Keep your medication list updated and accurate.
• Have your list with you, especially each time you travel or go to the clinic, hospital or emergency room.
• If you are too sick to do so yourself, ask a family member or friend to show the medication list to your healthcare providers.