Why you should keep an updated medicine list

Why you should keep an updated medicine list

When you see a new doctor or go to a new healthcare clinic, you are often asked to bring a list of your current medicines. While it’s important for new doctors to know what you’re taking, it’s equally as important to discuss your medicine list yearly with your family doctor.

Your medicine list is in your medical records, but it often needs to be updated or changed as your medical care changes. If you’ve stopped taking any medicines – even vitamins – your doctor needs to know. Sometimes, it could explain why you’re sick or feeling a certain way, especially if something you’re taking is interacting with another medicine.

Updated medicine lists and records are crucial in case of emergency. If you are not able to answer questions, having your records up to date could save your life. Not only that, here are a list of reasons not having your record up to date could be harmful.

  • Lots of people take over-the-counter medicines like Advil, Tylenol or aspirin for pain. Sometimes these drugs can interact with the medicine your doctor has given you (prescriptions) and cause major health problems.
  •  Some over-the-counter medicines are not FDA-approved (like some vitamins), and could cause problems when mixed with your prescriptions.
  • Many drugs are known by different names depending on whether you’re taking a brand name or a generic medicine. It’s important to know exactly which medicine you are taking to be able to track side effects and interactions.

Your medicines may change from year to year based on your need and medical care, so be sure to tell ALL of your healthcare providers when there are changes. Remember, if you see more than one doctor, they might not have access to all of your medical records. That means it is up to you to make sure your medicine list is up to date.

Even if you’ve seen the same doctor for years, it doesn’t mean he or she will know your medicines by heart. It’s up to you to make sure your medical records are correct. This is where YOU become part of your own care team.

packets of medicine sleeves with white pills, pink pills and yellow pills stacked in a pile - medication list

What to put on your medication list

When you make your list, be sure to include:

  • Your name and list of drug allergies
  • The exact name of all of your medicines
    • Over-the-counter medicines you’re taking (allergy medicine, aspirin, etc.)
    • Vitamins
    • Herbal teas or natural remedies
    • Nutritional or dietary supplements (fat-burners, protein powder, etc.)
    • Respiratory medications like a nebulizer or inhaler
  • What you take each medicine for
  • The dosage of each medicine
  • How you take each medicine (pill, powder, etc.)
  • How much of each medicine you take (number of pills, number of scoops, etc.)
  • When you take each medicine (time of day, how many times a day)
  • The pharmacy where you pick up each medicine
  • The doctor who prescribed the medicine to you

The easiest way to keep all this information in one place is to write it down and store it in your wallet or purse. That way, you have it on you wherever you go, in case of emergency. Make sure you change your list any time you are prescribed a new medicine or stop taking one. If you’re an NMC patient, you can update your medication list through our Patient Portal.

young daughter hold old mother's hands

Rules for Caregivers

If you are caring for someone and are helping them to manage their medicine list, make sure to keep the conversation going and encourage them to speak with their healthcare provider about their list regularly. Elderly patients who are prescribed several medications are at a higher risk for medicine errors.

If you have any questions about the medicines you are taking, contact the doctor who prescribed them.