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How to be safer with prescription medications

WTB Public Affairs

Published: 11:47AM July 25th, 2013

Soldiers taking prescribed medications can actively take steps to ensure they stay informed and safe, according to Dr. Katie King, the Warrior Transition Battalion’s clinical pharmacist.

“You always want to ask what to expect from the medication,” said King, who suggests asking providers about both the common and rare side effects of medications, how much and how often to take them, and how they may react to other prescribed medications.

Patients should ask when’s the best time to take multiple medications to ensure they don’t potentially counter-act each other or lower each others’ absorption, said King. Soldiers should also notify providers if they are taking over-the-counter medications or supplements, which may also interact with prescribed medications.

If Soldiers experience side effects, they can go to sick call or to the pharmacy, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; after hours, they should go to the emergency room. King offered Soldiers additional pharmaceutical safety tips:

• If you forget a dose of medication, you can take it if you’re only late by two or three hours. Otherwise, wait until the next day to avoid doubling up on doses.

• You can pick up a free medication organizer box from King; these are especially useful for those with memory issues.

• If you want to reduce your medication dosage, tell your primary care manager, who will create a reduction plan and will follow up with you.

• If you are concerned about taking a medication, you can tell your PCM that you don’t feel comfortable taking it and explain why.

Your medical team can work with you to find an alternative care solution. • If you have extra medications you can return them to the WTB pharmacist.

• Know that controlled substances can’t be taken any later than six months after the last dispensing.

• If a new onset of symptoms arise, instead of taking expired medications you should go to sick call or to the ER.

• Don’t share your medications with anyone else, especially with anyone on medications; without professional oversight, it is unknown if newly introduced medications may react poorly with one’s existing medications.