Medication safety during COVID-19
July 24, 2020
by Cora Van Zutphen, UGFHT Clinical Pharmacist
Managing medications for yourself or someone else can be challenging. Here are some tips to help keep everyone safe.
Know your medications
- Ask Questions. When you see your doctor, nurse or pharmacist ask if any medications have been added, stopped or changed and why.
- When a new medication is added, ask how long the medication needs to be taken, how you will know if it’s working and what side effects to watch for.
- Keep an up to date medication list. Include all prescription and non-prescription products on this list as well as vitamins, minerals, herbals and natural products.
- Securely store medications out of sight and out of reach of children and pets. Keeping medications out of reach can help prevent accidental poisonings. Never leave medications stored on a countertop, bedside table, or accessible bag or purse where a young child could reach them. Even a single dose of some medications can cause serious harm or death.
- Keep high-risk medications like opioids stored in a locked cabinet or box.
- Schedule a medication clean out. Go through all of your medications, including over the counter products, at least twice a year to look for expired or unneeded medications that need to be disposed of.
- Return unneeded and expired medications to a safe disposal location. Most pharmacies* accept returns for safe disposal. Wellington County residents may also use the Mobile Household Hazardous Waste Depot year round for disposal of medications. Never flush medication down the toilet or sink, or throw it out in the garbage. These practices have a harmful effect on the environment.
* Some pharmacies may not be accepting medication returns for disposal, or they may have new ways of taking them back, during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have medications for disposal, call your pharmacy to inquire and ask for advice if they are unable to accept returns at this time. They may suggest that you safely store these medications in your home until the pharmacy can accept them. For many medications this means locking them away.
The Upper Grand Family Health Team Pharmacist is available to provide medication reviews and assist with complex medication regimens. During a medication review the pharmacist will:
- Assess the effectiveness or potential side effects of your medications
- Make recommendations to reduce your medication load where possible
- Help you to organize/ schedule your medications as needed
- Help with medication accessibility
- Connect with your community pharmacy when needed
- Answer your questions about your medications
- Provide you with an up to date list of your medications
Your doctor or nurse practitioner may consult the Family Health Team Pharmacist for drug information and clinical support for prescribing, and renal dosing of medications. For more information on how you can my free clinical services visit our website or call 519-843-3947 extension 126.