Use Medications Wisely
Avoid Becoming a Statistic
Medications are designed to help, not hurt. However, when taken incorrectly, they can be dangerous. Adverse drug "events" cause more than 700,000 emergency room visits each year (of these about 120,000 patients need to be hospitalized), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your doctor is responsible for prescribing the correct medication, and your pharmacist's job is to fill that prescription correctly. You are responsible for not only taking the medication correctly, but also for working as a team with your physician and pharmacist. Consider keeping a list of all medications you are taking, including prescription medications, vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies and any over-the-counter medicines, and sharing that list with your doctor as well as your pharmacist.
Take All Medicines as Prescribed
When in doubt about your prescriptions, ask questions. Be sure you know the answers to the following:
• Why am I taking this medication?
• What are the side effects?
• What should I do if I have an adverse reaction?
• When should I stop taking this medication?
• Can I take this medication with other medications on my list?
Organization Is Key
One way to keep things straight is to keep a detailed account of your medications on a Medicine Record Form. This is important not only from a health standpoint, but such a form is also useful in many aspects of a Workers' Compensation case. First, permanent medication side effects need to be considered as part of any settlement, including future medical care. Second, a detailed list of medications and their use is important, particularly in light of the recent Medicare requirements in some cases that settle for a lump sum.
If you settle with a lump sum (referred to as a compromise and release) and you are receiving Medicare or are eligible to receive it within 30 months, Medicare requires that part of your settlement be set aside for future Medicare-covered expenses.
Documentation of all medication taken during a patient's last two years of treatment is required to determine the set aside. Therefore we recommend saving all pharmacy medication receipts because they include the necessary information—name of the medication, dosage, frequency and name of treating physician.
Practice Medication Safety
You can be your own best advocate when it comes to taking medication safely. Consider the following tips:
• Never take medication intended for someone else.
• Always read labels carefully.
• Don't keep medications that are expired or discontinued; the Federal Drug Administration can guide you on how to dispose of medications.
• Don't combine multiple medications in the same bottle.
• Don't take medications that aren't clearly marked.
• Don't stop taking medication just because you feel better.
• Keep all medication away from children; never refer to it as "candy."
• Keep the number of the American Association of Poison Control Centers handy—1-800-222-1222—and use it, if necessary.