Managing Your Medication

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Many of us start the day off with a hot shower, a cup of coffee and a handful of pills. But a warning tonight from doctors about that last item.

More than one million errors are made every year with medication.

When it comes to medication, a Fremont mother-daughter duo has it down. Ruth is the organizer. Norma - the perfect patient.

Dr. James Sullivan says with so many of us taking so many pills you have to be careful.

"Some people are on eight, 10, 12 medications. That gets confusing for a patient and too often (patients) don't really know what they're taking," said Family Physician, Dr. James Sullivan.

Especially if you have more than one health care provider.

"If they go to the emergency room, if they're admitted to the hospital, if they go to different specialists. You can see how that list can get long and confusing for the patient if many physicians are prescribing different medications," Dr. Sullivan said.

If your doctors aren't aware of your new medications, medical mistakes can happen.

"It could result in serious illness or even death," Dr. Sullivan warned.

So Dr. Sullivan is challenging us to communicate better.

He suggests bring a list, or better yet, all the medication you take to your next doctor's appointment. That way everyone stays on the same medical page.

He also recommends taking notes during doctor's visits, like Ruth.

"I have a computerized list of all the meds, what the doses are, when the medication is supposed to be taken and what the medication is for. I also have a list of all her doctors, so whoever she's seeing knows who else she's seeing," said Ruth Register.

Ruth's mom has never had a medication mix-up.

"I'm very proud of that," Register said with a smile.

Because she knows even one error is one too many.

Dr. Sullivan says it is a team effort. He prints off a list of a patient's medications every time they leave his office. He encourages patients to check the list and make sure it's accurate. If it's not, speak up.