Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States.1 Medication Safety Week was created to spread awareness and offer strategies to make sure medications are taken and stored properly.
Medication Safety Week is a great time to get a jump on your Spring cleaning—by starting with your medicine cabinet. You may be surprised to find expired medications that should have been properly discarded years ago. The expiration date is the final day that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of medications, you should not take them after the expiration date.
Know Your Medications
Learn the names of your medications, what they treat and what they look like. We recommend maintaining an up-to-date record that includes both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. This can help clear some of the confusion and reduce your risk of a medication-related illness. Knowing the drug’s name and purpose can help you avoid double-dosing.
Are you taking what your doctor ordered, the way they ordered it? Brush up on the dose and frequency of your medications as well as potential side-effects and interactions to look out for. You should also take note of any recommendations on how to take the medication—such as with food or on an empty stomach, or in the morning versus at night. The effectiveness of some medications is dependent upon taking them at the correct times and in the recommended way.
Store Medications Properly
Store medicines in their original containers and in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. High levels of humidity, heat and light may alter some medications. Check the labels, as some medications have temperature recommendations that require them to be kept in the fridge. Be sure to keep them in a place where children and pets cannot reach.
- Be diligent about communication with all health care professionals. Make sure you understand your medications and how you should take them before leaving the doctor’s office and ask for written instructions. Actively seek information from your pharmacist about your prescriptions. They can tell you about side-effects and interactions with other prescriptions you may be taking.
- Don’t share prescriptions with friends or family.
- Dispose of medications properly. Some pharmacies will take your old drugs for proper disposal. Avoid putting them in trashcans or into the toilet.
- If you are traveling through time zones, work out a plan for adjusting the timing of your medication to prevent you from taking too much or too little.
- Remember that the term “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe”. Treat all supplements the same way you would any prescribed medications. Before taking any supplements, it is smart to consult your doctor.
The Compass Rose Health Plan utilizes Express Scripts for our Prescription Drug Program. Express Scripts makes it easy for members to manage their prescriptions. With an online Express Scripts account, you can view important information such as copayments, refill alerts, cost-savings and pharmacy information. You can also price and compare medications, sign-up for our Home Delivery Program and manage automatic refills. Learn more about your prescription drug benefit and sign-up for an Express Scripts account. These benefits are also available in Express Scripts’ free mobile app, which includes a personalized, interactive virtual medicine cabinet. Search for ‘Express Scripts’ in your mobile device’s app store. If you have questions, contact Express Scripts at (877) 438-4449.