The Why, What, and How of Your Medication History


The Why, What, and How of Your Medication History


Do you have a medication history card in your purse or wallet? You should. Knowing your medication history can save time—and maybe even your life—when you need medical care.

“It’s all about peace of mind,” says Anna Anders, MSN, RN, CENP, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Carson Tahoe Health. “Bringing that medication list helps the caregiver take proper precautions to ensure patient safety.”

Why do you need a medication history card?
Bringing a medication card to healthcare providers during a routine appointment or an unexpected emergency room visit can prevent them from prescribing treatments that could interfere with your current medication regimen.

“Emergency room nurses can spend more than an hour trying to assemble an accurate medication history for a patient,” Anders says. “If electronic health records tell them one thing, the pharmacy tells them another, and the patient or caregiver says something completely different, how can they know what’s correct?”

What is a medication history card?
Medication history cards should list the current prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you’re taking—including your dosage schedule—and medications you’ve taken in the past.

Other information you should consider keeping up to date on your medication card includes your current primary care physician (PCP), pharmacy, allergies, and implanted medical devices.

In addition to a card, you should also post a medication list that’s easily viewable in your home for medical responders in times of emergency.

How do I create a medication history card?
While it may be inconvenient in the short term, fill all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy in case you visit a physician who has never seen you before. That way, a simple phone call to your pharmacy can provide an accurate medication list in case your medication card is missing.

If you need help coming up with a medication list, your pharmacy or a PCP can provide you with an accurate history to draw from.

“Carson Tahoe provides a medication card built into patient’ folders when they are admitted,” Anders says. “It’s a tear-out card that we can fill out for them, which they can carry and update accordingly.”

Need help making your medication history card? Talk to your PCP. If you need help finding a provider, you can find a one near you in our online physician directory.