Using Medications Wisely

June 19, 2009

Prescription drugs

It's important to know as much as you can about the drugs you take, so you can help prevent medication errors.

Using Medications Wisely

It's important for you to know as much as you can about the drugs you're taking. This helps you get the most benefit from your medications and avoid medical errors.

Find Out if you are Taking High-Risk Medications

In people 65 years and older, medical studies1,2 show that some medicines should be reviewed by patients and their doctors because they can cause serious side effects. These harmful side effects include falls, confusion, sleepiness, drowsiness, and weakness. This type of medicine is called a high-risk medication.

A list of these high-risk medications is in the table below. If you are taking one of these medicines, please notify your doctor and ask if you should take a different medicine.

Drugs
Armour ® Thyroid hyoscyamine (Hyomax ®, Levsin ®)
carisoprodol (Soma ®) methocarbamol (Robaxin ®)
cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril ®) nitrofurantoin (Macrobid ®)
dicyclomine (Bentyl ®) oral estrogens, estropipate (Premarin ®, Prempro ®)
diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotilreg) orphenadrine (Norflex ®)
dipyridamole (Persantine ®) promethazine (Phenergan ®)
hydroxyzine (Atarax ®, Vistaril ®)

For additional questions, please call the number on the back of your Humana ID card.

Your medication list

To reduce your risk of medication problems, make a complete list of:

  • Prescriptions you take
  • Over the counter medicines you take
  • Vitamins and supplements you use
  • Drug allergies

Update this information regularly, keep it handy, and make sure someone else knows where to find it. As a Humana member, you can keep track of this information quickly and easily with My Health Record. That's a page on MyHumana where you can enter, save, and print your medical history.

Other safety tips

Here are some other ways to use medications safely:

  • Know what your medications are for - You should know the name and strength of the medication, why you're taking it, and for how long. Put this information on your medication list. You also should understand any special instructions, such as "take with food" or "avoid alcoholic beverages."
  • Watch for interactions - Remember that other drugs, including over-the-counter medicines, and even some foods, can interact with your medication. That's why you need to tell your doctor about all the drugs you take.
  • Talk to your doctor about problems or side effects - Your doctor may decide to change the dosage or try a different medicine.
  • Check every fill - When you pick up a new prescription or refill, make sure the drug and strength match what your doctor prescribed.
  • Take each dose exactly as prescribed - If you have trouble remembering to take your medicines, ask your pharmacist to help you organize them.
  • Don't keep medicines past their expiration date - Old drugs can be ineffective or dangerous.

Knowing how, when, and why to take your medicine helps ensure you stay in good health.

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