When you change doctors, hospitals and other care providers, records that show all the medicines you take should move with you.
But sometimes this doesn't happen as it should. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society says between 30% and 70% of patients experience an medicines error when their care is transferred – for example, from a GP to a hospital, or between hospitals.
Getting the wrong medicines, or not getting all the medicines you have been prescribed, can be harmful.
You or your carer can help your health professionals keep track of your medicines by keeping a complete, up-to-date list of all the medicines you currently take. If you need help making a list, ask a doctor or health professional.
You can also download a form from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's website to help you make a medicines list.
This list can help you and health professionals keep track of your medicines. It's a good idea to take the list with you whenever you're away from home – when you go on holiday, for example. It will be useful for your health professionals if you are taken ill.
Keep all your medicines together in a safe place. Don't keep out-of-date medicines or medicines that you no longer need. Take them to a pharmacist to be disposed of safely.
Don't stop taking medicines you have been prescribed without talking to your GP or another healthcare professional first.
Medicines come with a patient information leaflet. This has information about how to use them safely and effectively. If you don't get an information leaflet with the medicine, ask for one.
If you have questions or concerns about your medicines, you can ask your GP for help. If you don't understand what they tell you, ask them to explain it again more simply.
Alternatively, you can ask your local pharmacist about your medicines. You can also ask them about a medicines use review. This is where the pharmacist goes through your medicines with you and discusses any problems or concerns you might have.
Find out more about how your pharmacy can help.
If you're going into hospital, changing hospitals or leaving hospital, you can help ensure your medicines records go with you. This will mean you keep getting the medicines you need.
Before you go into hospital, make a complete, up-to-date list of your medicines. Take the list into hospital with you, and show it to your healthcare staff. If you have been asked to bring your medicines with you, make sure you include all the medicines you take.
If you move between hospitals, take your up-to-date medicines list with you. If possible, keep all your medicines together and in their original containers.
In hospital, a doctor, nurse or another healthcare professional should check your medicines within 24 hours of your arrival. Ask someone if this doesn't happen.
When you leave hospital, ask for your medicines to be explained to you. This is particularly important if you have been prescribed new medicines.
Each of your medicines should come with a patient information leaflet. If you don't receive one, ask for it so you can refer to it later. Ask for written information on your medicines so you have a record you can refer to later.
Remember to add any new medicines to your medicines list. If you need help with this, ask hospital staff.
The next time you see your GP, check they know about any changes to your medicines. It can be helpful to take your medicines list with you to your appointment.
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