Getting Started

Every year thousands of people become sick and some die because of medication mistakes. And it is not just you who can get confused over which pill to take when. Your healthcare team needs to know about all medications you take to make the best healthcare plan. It is very important that you and your healthcare teamwork together to come up with this best plan together. Your role in the team is the most important one. No one knows you like you do! So, here are some of the things that you can do to "Play it Safe!"

"Raise the BARR"


  • A list of the medicines that you take to every healthcare appointment, include

    • Medications you take from non-VA Providers.

    • Over the counter medications like Tylenol or Pepto-Bismol

    • Herbals like Echinacea or Saw Palmetto

    • Vitamins and any supplements too, like energy or protein drinks

  • Name and Contact Info of non-VA Providers

  • All your medications in a bag to your healthcare appointment if that helps.

  • The updated medication list home after each healthcare appointment or stay in the hospital. Keep a copy on your fridge door just in case you cannot speak for yourself.


  • What is this medication for?

  • Do I have to take it?

  • How do I take the medication? Every day? Twice a day? With Food? As needed?

  • What are the side effects?

  • What side effects do I need to report?

  • How do I know it is working?


  • Any symptoms you have due to medication like headaches or dizziness.

  • When you have changed, added, or stopped any medication

  • If you have lost your medications or they have been stolen

  • Any concern about your medications

  • If you have recently seen any non-VA providers


  • You are the center of your healthcare team

  • Communicate with your healthcare team about your medications

  • Your healthcare plan is a shared decision between you and your healthcare team.

  • Keep updated on any new information about your medications

  • The VA cares about you and wants you to have the very best and safest care possible

  • It all starts with you

Updated 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