Monitoring Your Medicines in the Hospital
Medicine errors can happen when you're in the hospital. As an active patient, you can keep careful track of the medicines you're getting and help prevent mistakes. Here are some things you can do to monitor your medicines and stay safe.
- If you are allergic to a drug, check your wristband to be sure it lists all drug allergies.
- If the nurse doesn't ask, say your full name when the nurse comes in to give you medicine.
- Write down everything.
- Before you go to the hospital, make a list of all the medicines—including vitamins and supplements—that you are taking. Make several copies of the list to take with you. Keep one copy next to your bed in the hospital.
- If you're not getting those medicines while you're in the hospital, find out why. There may be a good reason. Or it could be a mistake.
- Always ask questions.
- Ask—or have a family member ask—for a copy of your hospital medicines list. When someone comes in to give you medicine, make sure that exact medicine is on the list. If it's not, ask why.
- Talk with the nurse about the medicine they are giving you. Ask, "Can you tell me about this medicine?" And then make note of any side effects or other problems the nurse tells you to watch for.
Medicine errors can happen after you leave the hospital too. Doctors may have prescribed pills you need to take at home. You may have other pills you take at home for other problems, but your hospital doctors may have changed those medicines or the dosage. It can get pretty confusing.
Before discharge, most hospitals do what's called a "medication reconciliation." It means that someone has looked at the medicines you were taking before your hospital stay, medicines you took during your stay, and medicines your doctors want you to take after your stay. The goal is to make sure that everything is correct and that there aren't any conflicts.
Before you leave the hospital, be sure you understand which medicines you should take and which medicines you should stop taking. If something doesn't seem right to you, ask questions.
Current as of: February 28, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
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All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.