Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
America's Winter Escapes Sweepstakes
Introducing RealPad by AARP
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning Centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Finding Your Way

How to Avoid Dangerous Medication Errors

Drug-related hospital admissions double among older Americans

As an active health care consumer, talk with your doctor about your medications, how they work, and potential side effects. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Many medication errors are discovered by patients.

To reduce your chances of complications from medicine, use this checklist:

  • Bring a list or a bag with all your medicines when you go to your doctor's office, the pharmacy or the hospital. Include all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. Remind your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to any medicines.
  • Ask questions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to use plain language. It may also help to write down the answers or bring a friend or relative with you.
  • Make sure your medicine is what the doctor ordered. Many drugs look alike and have names that sound alike. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure you have the right medicine. If you are getting a refill and the medicine looks different, ask the pharmacist about it.
  • Learn how to take medicine correctly. Read the directions on the label and other paperwork you get with your medicine. Medicine labels can be hard to understand. Ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain anything you do not understand. Are there other medicines, foods or activities (such as driving, drinking alcohol or using tobacco) that you should avoid while using the medicine? For example, ask if "four doses daily" means taking a dose exactly every six hours or just during regular waking hours. Ask what "take as needed" really means.
  • Find out about possible side effects. Many drugs have side effects. Some side effects may bother you at first but will get better later. Others may be serious. If a side effect does not get better, talk to your doctor. You may need a different dose or a different medicine.

 

Make your medicines work for you — not against you. By taking steps to get the best results from your medicines, you can help prevent problems.

I'm Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that's my advice on how to navigate the health care system.

Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at glasses.com.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points