WA Health system

Managing your medications in hospital

Managing your medications safely at home and in hospital is vital for your health.

It’s important to know what medicines you take, and why you take them, as mistakes can occur when medicines are prescribed, taken or used incorrectly.

lady reading scriptsIt’s really important that you keep track of all your medications. Medicines are usually prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist. Complementary or “over-the-counter” therapies like vitamins, nutritional supplements, and natural or herbal remedies are also considered medicines.

Medicines may be:

  • tablets, capsules or liquids, patches, creams and ointments
  • drops and sprays for eyes, nose, ears and mouth
  • inhalers and puffers
  • injections or implants
  • pessaries or suppositories.

Managing your medicines safely in hospital means:

  • letting staff know if you are allergic to any medications
  • speaking up about your medicines
  • asking questions if you are unsure about your medicines
  • finding out about what your medicines are for
  • discussing options with your doctor
  • making sure you understand how to take your medicines
  • ensuring all medications are explained to you before transfer or discharge.

Keep hospital staff informed about your medications.

Bring all your current medicines with you to show your hospital doctor and pharmacist, and tell them about:

  • regular prescription medications – ask your community pharmacist for a list or visit NPS Medicinewise at www.nps.org.au and use the smart phone app to manage your own medicine list
  • any recent changes to your medicines
  • any problems you’ve had with any medicines, including allergic reactions or difficulties swallowing medicines.

Understand what medicines you take and why.medications

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain why you are being given particular medications, their possible side effects and whether they can be taken safely with your other medications.

Tell staff straight away if you feel unwell after taking any medicine.

Getting the right medicines at the right time.

Make sure hospital staff check your wrist band identification before they give you any medication to ensure the medicines are prescribed for you. If you think you should have received some medications, or the medications appear different, ask.

Read the label on your medicines before you take them home. If you don’t understand the instructions, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Video – Your medicines

Watch more of our videos at the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).

Read the video transcript – Your medicines.


Quality Improvement and Change Management Unit

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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