Medicine Safety: A Toolkit for Families

Medicines have a distinct value and purpose: to help heal the body and relieve physical symptoms.

Some illnesses are minor, such as an upset stomach or a headache, in which case you might take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to ease discomfort. If you have an infection, antibiotic medication can help your body fight the bacteria that caused it. Sometimes a chronic illness, such as hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, or diabetes will involve taking regular medication, which can improve your quality of life and daily functioning. Many households have medicine cabinets stocked with OTC and prescription medications, multi-vitamins, herbal remedies, and prescription drugs. As the months and years go by, it's not uncommon to accumulate many different medicine bottles in your medicine cabinet. In fact, you might not recognize everything you have, and it may be difficult to remember why you even have a few medicines you have in your possession.

A Medicine Tool Kit

When you have several members of the family taking various medications, it’s important to know who is taking which medicines to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy. When a doctor writes a new prescription for you or someone in your family, ask questions about the medication so you know why it’s being prescribed, how to take it, and whether there are any side effects associated with the medicine. Many medicines have extensive benefits. However, these drugs can be harmful if you don’t take them correctly.

A medication tool kit helps keep everyone in your family safe. This tool helps you avoid misusing medication, provides important information about medications, enables you to keep a record of your family’s medicines, and provides helpful tips for safe medicine use for everyone in your family. The tool kit also helps you track questions you might have regarding overall health and medications. No one can be a better advocate for your family’s health than you, so learn all you can about the benefits and risks of medications to keep your loved ones as healthy and safe as possible. Any time you have doubts about medicine, always ask questions to get answers.

Tips for Managing Medications

  • Always engage in dialogue with your health care provider and pharmacist about medications. Ask why the medication is being recommended and whether there are any side effects involved with taking the drug. Also find out about potential interactions with other remedies and products you might be taking.
  • Keep a detailed record of every drug and remedy everyone in your family is taking, including herbal remedies, vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription medications. Know all ingredients and the full instructions for using medicines. Also know the expected results of the medications and any potential issues that might occur from taking drugs.
  • Read and re-read labels often so you understand the medicines and the instructions for taking them. Before taking or administering anything, always double check to make sure you’re giving the right product to the correct person in the recommended dosage.
  • Learn about drug interactions between all medications and remedies. Also learn about possible interactions between medications and specific foods and beverages. Problems can happen when you mix different ingredients.
  • Stay attuned to physical symptoms after giving or taking medicine to know what effects the medicine might be having. If you’ve given medicine to a child or elderly person, watch their symptoms and behaviors so you are aware of any unexpected results.

3 Rs for Safe Medication Use

  1. All medicines have some risk associated with them. It’s crucial to weigh risks against benefits before taking any drugs.
  2. Respect the power of medication, and use medicines correctly as recommended.
  3. Take responsibility for learning all the details about medications before using them.


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