Julie Klein-Roerig, director of Pharmacy, Banner Heart Hospital
Question: On a daily basis, I take several different types of medications. Some of them look similar. Do you have any recommendations for ways I can maintain optimum medication safety?
Answer: Medications that look alike are a major concern in health care today. I suggest taking an inventory of all the medications you are taking. This includes prescription medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal, and over-the-counter products. Using a sheet of paper or computer, list each item. Include the following information for each product:
- Description: Tablet/Capsule, Shape, Color, Markings(numbers/letters)
- Directions for use
- Reason for taking
Retail pharmacies have compartmentalized medication organizers that contain a similar log for $15-$20. Another method is to take a picture of each product. Take an unlined white sheet of paper and draw a square for each product. The square should be large enough for two tablets/capsules to fit within the boundaries. This allows you to capture a picture of the markings on both sides of the product. Match the picture with the information listed above. This method works well with a digital camera and computer. It is important to make sure all information is legible and current. Generic medications change frequently, as does their appearance. If a product doesn’t match, ask your pharmacist. Keep a list with your home medication supply and a list with you whenever leaving home.