By SMH PGY1 Pharmacy Resident Chloe Sealy
On admission to the hospital, a pharmacist or nurse will ask what medications you take.
Unfortunately, there is no universal medical database that stores the entirety of your medical history and all of your prescription information in one place. Therefore, it is important NOT to assume that a provider knows what medications you are taking unless you tell them. This is especially true, if you have different providers in different networks.
By keeping a medication list, you can provide your doctors, nurses and pharmacists with the details they need, without having to rely on your memory during a potentially stressful time.
With an up-to-date home medication list, healthcare providers can make the most informed and safest decisions about your care, and also make sure that you continue getting all of your regular medications while in the hospital. This may also help them determine if your symptoms are related to a medication you are currently taking.
What is a Home Medication List?
A home medication list is a written record of all medications, supplements and vitamins that you take regularly or semi-regularly. This includes not only prescription medications, but also over-the-counter medications, as well as any herbal supplements, topical medications or inhaled medications.
It is important this list is up-to-date and thorough.
What to include on your home medication list?
- All medications have both a brand and a generic name, which is why you may have heard healthcare providers call your medication by another name. Either one is fine to use on your list. Example: Tylenol (brand name) and acetaminophen (generic name).
- This is the number (dose) listed behind the name of the medication. Many people can remember the names of their medications but have a harder time remembering the dose. Almost all medications have different strengths, so it is important to know what dose you are taking. Example: 500 mg tablet
- This describes how you take the medication. It is important to include if you take the medication daily, twice a day, once a week (include what day of the week), in the mornings or at bedtime, by mouth, injected, or with meals. Example: take 2 tablets by mouth, two times a day as needed.
- This is why you are taking the medication or the disease state or illness the medication is treating. Many medications can be used to treat multiple conditions and are dosed differently for each one, so it is important to be specific. Example: take as needed for a headache.
- It is helpful to list who is prescribing these medications. This includes listing the name of the prescriber and their specialty (such as primary care provider, endocrinologist, or cardiologist). Example: Dr. Smith (internal medicine)
Honesty Is The Best Policy
It is important to include if you are taking any prescription medications that are not your own. This is for your own safety and it stays between you and your healthcare provider.
Other helpful information you can include on your home medication list include: all known medication allergies, vaccines and dates, past medical history, and your preferred pharmacy for filling your medications.
What medications do I include in my home medication list?
- Daily maintenance medications
- As needed medications
- Eye Drops
- Ear Drops
- Topical creams or ointments
- Over-the-counter medications
Where should you keep your medication list?
That is completely up to you!
A paper copy in your wallet/purse or an electronic copy in your phone are both equally effective. But whichever you choose, remember to review and update it after each doctor’s visit or admission to the hospital.
It’s also a good idea to share this information with a loved one or caretaker who can assist if you are unable to provide information on admission.
Not sure where to get started?
Creating a medication list can be a little overwhelming at first. Below are some useful examples, templates and applications that can help you get started.
- Click here for an example of a home medication list from the CDC.
- Some helpful apps you can download to your phone include: Medisafe Medication Management, DrugLyst, My Med Rec, My Medication Diary, and Drugs.Com Medication Guide.
- Major pharmacy chains such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS also have apps available to help track your medications.