Medication Lists Are More Important Than You May Think


Current medication lists are vital in case of a medical emergency.

But do you know what information you need to include?

And do you know what isn't needed?

Let me try to make this as simple as possible for you. We will begin with information that medical professionals do not need and I will give you a real example that I encountered.

What We Don't Need On Medication Lists

medication lists

So ... now I have to tell the little blue pill story and this is a true story.

I once admitted an elderly woman to our Nursing Home from the hospital on a Friday evening. Her orders stated:

"Continue home meds" along with orders for antibiotic therapy for a discharge diagnosis of Pneumonia.

Family was with her so I asked them if they knew what medication she was on.

The family had a list. It consisted of something like this:

  • Asiprin daily

  • Red large capsule

  • A half a blue pill at night

  • One small white pill before dinner

  • Vitamins

  • Red little capsule after breakfast

  • Benadryl at night

It sounds funny but it wasn't.

Her primary doctor was from a small community hospital an hour out of town who was not answering his pages on a Friday night.

Her pharmacy was in the same small town and they were closed through the weekend.

The hospital she came to us from had had the same problem figuring out what medication she was on.

Unfortunately, some of those medications were vital to her well being. One was Digoxin to control her heart rate. Another was Coumadin to thin her blood.

The family could not return to town until the next evening when they brought in all of her pill bottles. It took me 36 hours to get her restarted on these medications that she had been without since she was admitted to the hospital.

All turned out okay. We were able to restart her without any long term consequences.

But you do not want to be here with your family member or loved one.



What to Include on Medication Lists

Begin your medication lists with all known drug allergies.

Allergies are allergic reactions, not necessarily side effects; however, if Codeine causes severe nausea and vomiting, even though that is a side affect and not an allergy, include that too.

That way, if I have a choice, I will avoid recommending Codeine your loved one.

Then include the following for each and every medication your loved one takes:

  • Medication Name: Trade name is fine but if all you have is generic, that will work too.

  • Dose: Dosage means "mg" strength, or "mcg". Dosage is NOT half a tablet.

  • Frequency: Is it taken once a day? Twice a day? Every day or every other day? Or is the medication taken "PRN", or as needed?

  • Diagnosis: Why is the medication being taken?

  • Prescription Date: When was the medication first prescribed? That information helps if someone is admitted shortly after a medication change or the addition or deletion of certain medications.

  • Prescribing Physician: Which doctor prescribed this medication? This is especially important if your loved one sees several specialists.

  • Discontinue Date: Just list a date of when medications were stopped. An example would be antibiotics that are only given for two weeks.

Some good examples of accurate medication lists would be:

Digoxin 0.125 mg, 1 pill every day at 5 pm for Atrial Fib. Prescribed by Dr. Smith 3/18/2007.

Coumadin 3 mg every evening. Dr. Jones. 3/18/2007. Atrial Fib.

Keflex 250 mg four times daily for Pneumonia. Dr. Barker. Started 3/15/2009. Ended 3/30/2009.



Medication lists do not need to be complex or complicated.

They just need to be complete.

It doesn't matter what form they are on. They don't need to be typed.

One easy way of doing this list is to get an update from the pharmacist every time you go in to to get medication refills or new medications.

Just make sure that discontinued medications are on the list as well as drug allergies.



Return from Medication Lists to Getting Ready

Return from Medication Lists to Home Page

Custom Search