Request a Brown-Bag Check-up
If you have a chronic condition, you may routinely take many
different kinds of medications. Often, the dose or times of
the medication may need to be adjusted as your health changes.
Sometimes, you may also have medications ordered by different
doctors, particularly if you visit a number of specialists.
These situations can lead to a great deal of confusion when
taking medications. As a safety measure, ask to schedule a
"brown-bag check-up" with your primary doctor or local pharmacist.
A brown-bag check-up is when you gather all of your current
medications and over-the-counter products into a "brown-bag"
and show them to your doctor or pharmacist so he/she can look
for any potential problems.
Schedule your brown-bag appointment in advance so the doctor
or pharmacist has allotted enough time for the visit. Remember
to take any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications,
herbal products or "natural products" you are using.
During the "check-up", the doctor or pharmacist will review
all of the medications and products you are currently taking,
to see if they are the same as those listed on your medical
record or pharmacy profile. They can double check these medications
for the correct dosage strength, frequency, or identify if
you are using outdated or discontinued medications. These
practitioners can also screen the medications and products
for potential duplication of therapy or side effects. This
is why it is important to include non-prescription products
in the bag.
A brown-bag check-up is not only helpful to patients, but
is useful for physicians and pharmacists too. This review
will help healthcare practitioners know whether you understand
how to take the medication, or if you are aware of any special
precautions that you may need to know about. This is also
a good time for the doctor to discuss with you any special
laboratory testing that may be needed with certain drugs.
You should be prepared to ask any questions you may have about
your medications. Don't be afraid to write them down, so that
you do not forget to ask.
Having a single doctor "in charge" or aware of all of the
medications and products that you take, is a safe rule. If
this is impossible, keep your list of medications and over-the
counter products up-to-date, and share this information with
every doctor or healthcare provider you visit. Remember to
fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy or inform
your pharmacist of any over-the counter, herbal or mail order
prescriptions you are taking so that there is complete oversight
of your medications.
Consider making an appointment today for a "brown-bag check-up",
or attend this type of sponsored event when offered through
your pharmacy, church or senior center.
Institute for Safe Medication Practices