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Medicine Cabinet Full? How Many Is 'Too Many' Pills?

Veteran talks to doctor about medication

Too often, you go to your health care provider and are put on a new pill or you're told to change the way you take the ones you already have. Ever stop and wonder, "What are all these pills for?" "What happens if I stop a pill or maybe add one extra?" In fact, getting answers to these questions could save your life. May is Medication Reconciliation Awareness Month, and it is a good time to check what you have and what you need.

What is Medication Reconciliation?

Medication reconciliation is a review done by your health care team of all the medicine you take. Generally, your medicine is reviewed every time you visit your provider, hospital, or emergency room. The review is done to keep your medication list up to date. Medication review is important because it can help stop problems before they happen by preventing medication errors. It also helps to make sure you and your health care teams have the same medication list.

You're the only one who really knows what medicines, vitamins, herbals, and supplements you are taking. That makes it important for you to share this information with members of your health care team. This is how it goes: When you have an appointment with your VA health care provider, they will ask you what medications you're taking. They want to know if you are having any problems with a medicine. They may also talk with you about changes to make it easier for you to take your medications.

This is the best time to ask any questions about your meds. Write down any questions you have and ask them at your next appointment. Tell the team if you are taking your medicine differently than prescribed. Your health care team needs to know such things when making recommendations and changes. Tell them if you are taking any medicine prescribed by any non-VA health care providers. Make sure you tell them about any 'Over the Counter' medicines you take. This is medicine you buy without a prescription like antacids, cold medicines, herbal products, vitamins, etc. Don't forget any free samples you have used as well.

Prescription bottles

Your VA health care team will answer your concerns or questions about your medications. They can also give you an updated list of your medications. Be sure you keep your medication list updated and share it with your health care teams, both inside and outside the VA. It's a good idea to keep the list in your wallet, in case of an emergency room visit or hospitalization.

The VA Blue Button allows registered users to keep their medication history online, ready to view, update and print out. If you have an Advanced or Premium My HealtheVet account you may also see your VA medication information. You can also refill your VA prescriptions online.

Secure Messaging is one of the more popular features for Veterans with a Premium account. You can send and receive messages safely with members of your VA health care team. With Secure Messaging you can easily and confidently ask questions about any medicine you take.

Read More

Medications Play it Safe

Veterans Health Library: Medications

Updated July 21, 2020