When receiving a new prescription medication from your doctor, I recommend the following steps:
- Inform your physician of any allergies you may have.
- Bring a list of all the medications you already take, or bring the actual medications in their original containers.
- Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medical condition for which another practitioner may be treating you.
- Ask about the benefits and risks of the new medication.
- Notify your doctor if you have difficulty swallowing pills or liquid medication and also if you prefer to take the lowest number of doses possible.
After agreeing on the new medication, make sure you have the following information from either the doctor or the pharmacist. (A pharmacist always gives a computerized handout with most of the important information about the drug.)
- The name of the medication.
- When, how much and how long to take the medication.
- What it’s supposed to do.
- What are the possible side effects.
- What food, drinks or activities might affect the medication.
- How the medication should be stored.
Discard any medication that has:
- Been discontinued by your doctor.
- No label on the container.
- Changed color or smell or seems different from how you remember it.
Since September 2008, it has officially been illegal to discard medicines and sharps (needles, etc.) by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them into the trash.
Most local pharmacies will accept unwanted medications and sharps. Sharps should be transported in an approved safe container that can be inexpensively obtained from any participating pharmacy.
Medications that should be safely discarded include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, pet medicines, vitamins, medicated creams and ointments and liquid medication in containers.
Contact your local pharmacy to ensure that they accept your throw-away drugs and sharps. For more information on this topic: 831-454-2160 or http://www.sharpmedsolutions.org.
Editor’s note: This is the third and last in a series of columns about prescription medication.