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Medicines

Know your medicines

If you take medicines, you play a role in your healthcare when it comes to medicine safety. You know best what medicines you take and how you take them.

Keep an up-to-date list of all the medicines you take and carry it with you. Remember that medicine is more than just the prescriptions you take (see below, “Do you just need to know what prescriptions I take?”). Your medicine list speaks for you in case you can’t, or if you don’t always remember all the medicines you take.

Sharing your updated list every time you see your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider helps them give you the best care possible. It could even prevent a dangerous medicine situation.

Doesn’t my doctor know what I’m taking?

Your doctor may not know all your medicines if:

  • You see more than one healthcare provider.
  • You go to more than one pharmacy to fill a prescription.
  • You’re not taking the medicine the way it was prescribed.

Your healthcare team works to keep a correct and up-to-date list of your medicines and tries to make sure all your healthcare providers know your medicines. But, if your healthcare team doesn’t know everything you take, something could be missed—like a medicine that is very important to your health or a medicine that doesn’t work well with another.

Does my healthcare team only need to know about the prescriptions I take?

Medicines are more than just those that a doctor prescribes. Your medicines include a long list such as:

  • over-the-counter pain killers, cold medicines, and laxatives
  • vitamins, minerals, and homeopathic, natural, and herbal remedies
  • recreational drugs (such as cannabis)
  • patches and inhalers
  • eye, ear, and nose drops
  • creams, lotions, ointments
  • samples from your doctor
  • anything you may be taking as part of a research study

What do I need to know and share about the medicines I take?

When you meet with your healthcare provider or go to a healthcare centre, tell them:

  • the names of all the medicines you take
  • how you take the medicines (for example, time of day, how much, and how often)

There are many ways you can keep track of the medicines you take, from a list in your wallet or purse, to something you keep on your mobile device.

There are also medicine tracking tools to help you.

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Current as of: February 18, 2021

Author: Medication Quality and Safety Team - Pharmacy Services, Alberta Health Services