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3. Managing medicines; medication checklist, remembering medications

When we talk about “managing medicines”, we mean everything we do — with our health care
providers and our pharmacist — to make sure we

      1) get the right medicines and
      2) take them
          • at the right time,
          • in the right amount,
          • in the right way.

The first step to avoid medicine mistakes is to spot them — like we did in Mrs. Nelson’s story

The next step we can take is to use the Med Check checklist of common medicine challenges.

It can help us spot habits that might lead to medication mistakes.

Let’s look at it to see what we’re doing right and where we might improve.

You can go through it online or print it out.

For each item, choose the statement that best describes what is true for you:

​Always Most of the time
Sometimes Never or hardly ever

For at least one or two of the medicine management problems on the list, did you choose something other than Always?

If so, you might want to print the list and take it with you to your next health care appointment.

Once you’ve gone through the Med Check, let’s consider ways to avoid or solve one or two of these common problems. 

Probably the most common trouble for many people is simply forgetting if they’ve taken their medication or not.

Fortunately, there are many reminder and tracking tools to help, from simple plastic pill dispensers with a container for each day’s pills, to elaborate dispensers with electronic alarms to smart phone apps. Email us at if you’d like us to mail you a simple dispenser.

A very simple tool for tracking whether you’ve taken your prescriptions is a paper chart. Click here for one you can print out.

Let’s look at #2, “I know why I am taking each of my medicines.”

If you answered something other than Always, how could you go about changing that?

Visit here for suggestions.

How about #11, “I can afford all my medicines.”
If this isn’t true for someone, how could that person go about changing that?

Visit here for suggestions.


As you can see, if you answered anything besides Always to one of the questions, it’s worth talking over with your health care provider.