What can I do?
Start a conversation
Good communication with your doctor, pharmacist and/or nurse is essential to ensure safe and effective health care.
To start a conversation, here are some questions you can ask about your medications:
1. Why am I taking this medication?
2. What are the potential benefits and harms of this medication?
3. Can it affect my memory or cause me to fall?
4. Can I stop or reduce the dose of this medication (i.e. deprescribing)?
5. Who do I follow-up with and when?
If you don't know the answers to the above questions, ask your health care provider at your next visit. Remember to hand in a complete list of your medications.
Knowledge is power: inform yourself about your health conditions and medications you are taking.
It’s all about teamwork: ask the right questions to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse and use the best information available to take charge of your health.
Life changes: what was good for you then might not be good for you now. This is why it’s important to ask the right questions about your medications to ensure that they are not causing more harm than good.
Always check with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before changing or stopping any of your medications.
Track your medications
Keeping track of many medications is difficult even for trained professionals. Do you keep a record of which medications you’re taking, the dosage, and when and why they were prescribed? A detailed medication record can help you and your health care providers ensure your medications are being managed safely.
Stick to one pharmacy
Try to fill prescriptions from one pharmacy so drug interactions are easily checked. Any pharmacy’s list will only show what their pharmacy has dispensed to you and won’t include everything you take.
Alternatives to risky medication
Alternative therapy are often available, which may be equally or more effective than the medication you are currently taking. Alternatives can include other prescription medications or over the counter medications. Simple changes to diet and lifestyle can often resolve health problems without the need for medication. Some examples:
- Alternative to sleeping pills: proper sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Better management of type-2 diabetes: regular physical activity, healthy diet and a healthy body weight.
- Alternative to stomach pills for acid reflux (proton-pump inhibitors): a change in diet, a healthy body weight and antacids like Tums® or Rolaids®.
Explore our many resources and articles on medication safety. Whether you’re taking medications yourself or caring for someone who is currently taking medications, learning about risky medications and medication side effects can help prevent harms.