Should I bring my medications to the hospital?
John Placko is the Director of Pharmacy for Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: Should I bring my medications with me when I go to the hospital?
Answer: This is a question many of us have probably asked ourselves before a visit to the hospital. There are four medication-related questions that will be asked of you when you come to the hospital:
- what medications are you on
- what is the dosage of that medication
- how often do you take the medication
- when was the last time you took your medication
If you do not have a prepared list of the medications you are currently taking when you arrive at the hospital, then bring your medications with you. Once your caregiver finishes documenting which medications you are taking, they will ask that your personal prescriptions be sent home with a trusted family member. During your hospital stay, all your medication will come from the hospital pharmacy for safety reasons.
Once the hospital knows which medications you are taking, a process called Medication Reconciliation is completed. With this process, caregivers evaluate and document your medication needs and decide which medications should to be continued, which medications might need to be temporarily withheld and, possibly, which medications need to be stopped completely. This documentation may be referenced at other times during your stay to determine if any of your home medications should be resumed.
At the end of your hospital stay, it also is important to talk with your physician about your continuing medication needs—and make sure you are clear about any new prescriptions that were added during your hospital stay. At Banner Estrella, you will be provided a list of the medications you should take after you are discharged from the hospital, and it may not include medications you were previously taking. You should share this list with your family physician at your next visit.
This question brings up an important point: It is very important for everyone to keep an accurate medication history in your house or on your person at all times; especially if you are on multiple medications. Making a list and updating that list regularly with every new drug, any change in frequency or any change in dosage could mean the difference between a calm stay in the hospital or a possible medication overdose or dangerous medication interaction. There are some tools that can assist you in maintaining that list. Local fire departments or ambulance companies often use a product called Vial of Life®. The Vial of Life is a list in a medicine bottle that is kept in your refrigerator. Paramedics are trained to look for this list if you have the proper identification within your house. Or, you can carry your medication list with you by utilizing The Med Form. The Med Form is available at themedform.com or from the hospital.