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Benefits of Change

It is normal for someone to question why something is so important that behaviors should change. Medication review is important because it can help stop problems before they happen by:

  • Preventing medication errors

  • Talking with your healthcare team about medications you take

  • Working with your healthcare team on making decisions about your medications and health care

  • Making sure you and your healthcare team have the same medication list

Use the medication list in my HealtheVet to track you medications. Then print a copy for your wallet, one you keep close to your phone and do not forget to take a copy every time you see your provider. To see what this looks like click here.

Steps to Play it Safe with Medications:

  1. Set The Right Goals - Do not try to do everything at one time. Work on one goal, when that is complete then go to the next. To start, you may want to:

    • Record your medications - Your first goal should be to make a list of all the medications you take. Start with those that your VA provider ordered for you. Next, list any medications that a non-VA provider ordered. Finish your list with any over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements or herbal medications you take

    • Discard old medications - Keeping medications beyond their expiration date is not safe. If you do not know what to do with old prescription medications, you can take them to your pharmacist, who will discard them for you.

    • Organize your medications - If you are on several medications use a pillbox to help you remember when to take your medications. There are pillboxes that have the days of the week as well as slots for both morning and afternoon pills. If it is hard for you to read your medication labels, you may want to ask a family member or friend to work with you on meeting this goal. If you do not have a pillbox, let your VA pharmacy know.

  2. Keep a Record - Self-monitoring refers to observing and recording some aspect of your behavior. Use the My HealtheVet pharmacy section to keep track of all your medications. Any time there is a change in your medication, make sure you update your medication record.

  3. Avoid A Chain Reaction - Some medications are not safe if taken together. Make sure you talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about taking your prescription medications with any over the counter medications you take or want to take.

  4. Share the message - Keep a copy of your medication record in your wallet. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your medication record somewhere visible in your home in case of an emergency. Also, take your medication record to every doctor visit and share your list with all members of your health care team.

  5. Maintain the Change - The glue that maintains change is consistency. If you are not consistent, change will not happen. Until the change is permanent, keep doing the above activities until it becomes a habit.


Reviewed/Updated Date: May 2011
Clinical Advisory Board Sponsor: Rose Mary Pries, PhD
Clinical Subject Matter Experts: Maureen Layden, MD, MPH; Eric Spahn, PharmD
Patient Education Subject Matter Experts: Kathy Horvath, PhD