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October serves as a reminder to ‘check your meds’

National Check Your Meds Day happens every October 21 and serves as a great reminder for individuals to review their current medications with a pharmacist, remove any that have expired, adjust medications as needed and get answers to any lingering questions they may have about their prescriptions. 

“You are your own best health advocate,” Brenda Wilson a Registered Pharmacist with Ephraim McDowell pharmacy said. “It is important to take personal responsibility for the medications you take, know what you take and why you take it.”

Wilson has worked for the Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center pharmacy for 15 years and said many people in the community do not realize that the pharmacy located inside the hospital is a regular retail pharmacy. 

“We have the benefit of a comprehensive inventory,” Wilson said. “We accept most insurances and are happy to fill prescriptions for anyone who would like to use our pharmacy. We check the medication, dosage, directions, allergies, drug-disease, and drug interactions to ensure the safety of our patients. We call the prescriber if we have any concerns about those issues and we supply medication information to the patient. Our auto-refill option is a valuable tool to help prevent missed doses of maintenance medications and is available for all patients who choose to use it. We also provide immunizations to help keep patients safe.”

Wilson suggested individuals taking medications should keep a current list of their medications in their wallet with the drug name, strength, and dosage listed. She also suggests the same for any over the counter vitamins or medicine that may be taken and a list of any known drug allergies.

“It is extremely valuable information to keep because if you are not feeling well you may not remember exactly what you take,” Wilson said. “For example, if you see a specialist, they will need an accurate list of what you are currently taking so they will be able to make adjustments or add prescriptions that will not lead to an interaction. Also, it is a good idea to check with your pharmacist before taking over the counter medications.”

Patients, Wilson said, should get in the habit of asking their pharmacist questions when beginning a new medication. She suggests asking questions such as, what is this medication for? Does it interact with any of my other medications? What are the potential side effects? Should it be taken with food or on an empty stomach? How long does it take to start working?

“Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers to patients,” Wilson said. “We can answer most questions about medications and also assist in getting refills. We also help by recommending cost-saving alternatives if the prescribed medication is unaffordable.”

Warning signs when starting a new medication can vary greatly depending on the medication. Wilson said she generally tells patients that if anything out of the ordinary occurs, or if a patient is suspicious that the way they feel is related to the medication they are taking, they should call their pharmacist and doctor to discuss their concerns. 

“Some side effects start immediately while others occur after months of taking a new medication,” Wilson said.

For more information call the Ephraim McDowell pharmacy at (859) 239-1706.

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