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Do You Have a Drug List?

A Drug List Is Needed During Emergency Situations

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Updated September 18, 2008

Do You Have a Drug List?

A drug list that is kept in a specific place that you will remember - even during an emergency - is a must for patients taking medications.

Photo by Pali Rao
Do you have a drug list prepared and filed away? If you do, have you checked to be sure the drug list is current? These really are important questions, so don't cast them aside by saying, "I'll get to it later." An up-to-date drug list is something you should have -- now.

What is a Drug List?

A drug list is just what it sounds like -- a detailed record of all of the drugs (and supplements) you are taking.

Osteoarthritis patients are a good example of people who may not feel a sense of urgency to create a drug list. After all, their condition is chronic but not life-threatening. They likely don't take as many medications as other medical conditions require. But the fact is, no matter what your medical condition -- and no matter how few or how many drugs you take to treat it -- you need a drug list.

If An Emergency Occurs - Are You Ready?

If you have a medical emergency and have to call the paramedics, one of the first things they will ask for is your drug list. If you don't have one prepared, the paramedic will either painstakingly go through each of your medications, writing down pertinent information, or ask you to verbally list what medications you take. That requires pronouncing the names of drugs correctly -- not to mention remembering the dosage and directions -- all while an emergency is underway.

Suffice it to say, it's much simpler to have a drug list prepared ahead of time and kept in a safe place should you need it. Of course, not all emergencies occur at home, so consider keeping a copy of your drug list in your purse or wallet, too.

Creating Your Drug List

No one likes to dwell on the possibility of emergency situations that may never happen. They are simply unpleasant to think about, so creating a drug list just in case may be something you'd rather put off. But think of it this way -- if you get your list prepared now, you won't have to worry about it going forward.

Creating a drug list is simple. It should contain the names of all drugs and supplements that you take on a regular basis. It should contain information about the dosage and prescribing instructions for each medication, as well. It's also important to list any drug allergies you have. If you want to be super-efficient, list your primary doctor's name, address, and phone number on your drug list, too.

Again, if you're an osteoarthritis patient, you may only take one medication. However, that medication could be associated with serious side effects. For example, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed drugs for osteoarthritis patients. There is a heart risk and risk of gastrointestinal bleeding associated with this class of drugs. If you have other comorbid conditions (conditions that occur together), such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you likely will have other medications on your drug list.

Using a computer to create your drug list can be helpful, as it will allow you to always have a copy stored for safe keeping.

  • Save your drug list file on your hard drive.
  • Print out a few copies and store them in a filing cabinet or in a folder elsewhere in your home where you and everyone in your household can easily remember where to find it.
  • Keep copies in several places that are easily accessible, such as your purse or car.

Your Drug List Must Be Current

If you have a drug list already, or promise to create one as soon as possible, job well done! But it doesn't stop there. It's imperative that you keep your drug list updated.

Every time you are prescribed a new drug, be sure to add it to your drug list. If you find that difficult to remember, try reviewing your drug list on a regular basis -- perhaps once a month. Replace all of the copies you've stashed in case of an emergency.

Remember, if you don't have a drug list, you risk wasting precious time in an emergency. If you have a drug list, but forget where you put it, that's useless. If you have a drug list that's not current -- that's equally useless. Be prepared.

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