Medication safety pamphlet for patients - HTML version

6 Nov 2011 | Medication Safety

Making sure you are taking the right medicines: An important guide for people coming into hospital

What can you do?

When you come to hospital, bring your medicines or information about what you are taking, or ask a family member to bring this in for you.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists need to know what medicines you are on to help them make decisions about your care and to prevent errors occurring.

1. Tell or show the doctor, nurse or pharmacist the medicines you are taking, any allergies you have, and how you react to medicines. This includes any vitamins, minerals, herbal, homeopathic remedies or traditional medicines you use with or without a prescription. This is important as it helps you to get the right care.

2. Ask the doctor, nurse or pharmacist before taking any medicines you have brought with you into the hospital. They will check these medicines are safe for you to continue using.

3. If you think you are being given the wrong medicine, ask the hospital staff to confirm it is for you and what it is for.

4. When you go home from hospital, if you are told to take one of your medicines in a different way from before, please check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist why there has been a change.

If you are unsure what medicines to tell hospital staff about, please ask. You can ask for someone who speaks your language to help ask the questions.

We want to make sure the medicines you are taking are safe and effective.

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist:

•       what is the name of the medicine and what is it for?

•       how often do I take it, and for how long? Do I have to take it at certain times?

•       what are the possible side effects and what do I do if I get these?

•       can I take this medicine with my other medicines or supplements?

•       what food and drink can I have while I’m taking this medicine?

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists use a process called medicine reconciliation to make sure we have all the information we need about your medicines.

We will ask you and your family about the medicines you are taking, and then match that information against the medicines you are being given at the hospital.

If we find any differences between the two lists of medicines, we will check to make sure we have the right information. We may also contact your doctor (GP) or community pharmacy to get more information.

We will make sure we tell you and your GP about any changes we have made to your medicines when you go home from hospital.

Remember your medicines includes:

 •       prescription medicines

•       over-the-counter medicines

•       vitamins and minerals

•       herbal and homeopathic remedies

•       traditional medicines.

For more information on medicine reconciliation, email

Produced by the Health Quality & Safety Commission as part of the Medication Safety programme.

Last updated 03/01/2012