What Should You Expect From a Medication Review?

For many people, taking medication is a regular part of their daily routines and essential for staying healthy. According to the CDD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 49% of Americans used at least one prescription drug during 30 days. In the USA and Canada, for adults ages 40 to 79, roughly 70% take at least one prescription drug — and nearly 23% use at least five. The older one gets, the more likely they will take more medications over time, adding to the complexity of their routine and risk of increased side effects, interactions, or missed duplication.

A medication review is NOT the pharmacist simply listing the medications you are on and asking for a signature of acknowledgement on a piece of paper.

When do medication reviews typically happen?

A medication review takes some time. Ideally, a medication review should be booked with one of our pharmacists to ensure enough time to discuss your medications.

If you are taking medications for two or more of the following:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Heart failure
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD etc

and if you:

  • fall under the description of obese (BMI greater than 30)
  • smoke
  • have an addiction

Then you are an excellent candidate to do a medication review. 

What Does a Medication Review Involve?

During a medication review, our pharmacist will go over the following:

  • Your prescription medications, what dosage you take, and how often you take them. With access to Alberta Netcare, our pharmacists can see a complete list of the medications that you are currently on as well as lab work you have had done.
  • Any over-the-counter medications you take, what dosage you take, and how often you take them.
  • Any vitamins, minerals, herbals, and other supplements you take; what dosage you take; and how often you take them.
  • Your alcohol and drug use. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with medications and increase medication side effects, such as drowsiness or jitteriness.
  • Any issues or concerns, such as side effects or trouble taking the medication.
  • Assess how safe, appropriate and effective current medicines are and whether they are being used per guidelines
  • Is there any monitoring required.

Why should you have a medication review?

A medication review can help you to:

  • Avoid interactions. The medicines you take can interfere with one another. They can also interact with what you eat or drink. This can make the medication less effective. It can also increase the risk of side effects. In some cases, combining drugs that shouldn’t be combined can lead to dangerous side effects.
  • Manage side effects. It’s not uncommon to experience side effects with medication. If side effects keep you from taking your medication our pharmacist can help you manage them, perhaps suggesting a lowering of the dose or switching to a different medication.
  • Reduce medication errors.  Canada does not have statistics on medication errors, extrapolation from the US data suggests an estimate of about 2 percent of hospitalized patients experience a preventable adverse drug event, and an estimate of 700 deaths per year result from medication errors.
  • Reduce the risk of falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian older adults. 20-30% of older adults fall each year, many of them sustaining injuries, like a broken bone or head injury. Certain medications, as well as OTC drugs and herbal supplements, can increase the risk of falls. Any medication that causes drowsiness, dizziness, vision problems, loss of balance and hypotension could potentially increase the chances of falling. It’s important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re feeling dizzy, drowsy, lightheaded, or confused or if you have blurred vision. These can increase your risk of falling and can be related to a medication you’re taking.
  • Prevent an accidental overdosePrescription and OTC drugs can contain the same active ingredients though their names are different. For example, acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is found in many other prescription pain killers, cold medications and allergy medications. Taking too much can damage your liver. Patients unknowingly may be consuming additional medication or competing medications. Even herbal or natural products can have adverse effects when combined with certain prescription medications

Medication reviews can help ensure that medicines are always being used safely and appropriately while reducing the risk of medicine-related problems and adverse drug reactions. They are also a helpful way of gauging your experience and satisfaction so that your medication regimen can be tailored to suit your needs better.

To learn more about medication reviews or to book a medication review, contact one of our pharmacists at a location near you.