How to properly use your medications

Medications are important tools in helping you overcome pain, wipe out infection and overcome disease. Your health-care team is counting on you to understand how to properly use your medications so that you derive the maximum benefits from them.

When you get your prescription filled, whether at one of our hospital pharmacies or at your local pharmacy, take time to go over the medication information with your pharmacist. This will be your opportunity to learn things like:

  • When during the day you should take your medication
  • How often you should take it
  • Any special directions for applying the medication
  • When you can safely discontinue using it
  • What other medications, foods, or liquids you must avoid when taking this medication
  • Any restrictions from activities because of the effects of the medication
  • Any side effects you might expect from this medication and when to alert your physician about side effects
  • How to properly store the medication to keep it potent and safe from children
  • How to safely dispose of any unused medications

You can learn some of this information from a drug reference website by looking up the medication by its trade name or its chemical name. These online resources can be helpful but should not take the place of directions you receive from members of your health care team, including your physician and pharmacist.

Discharge counseling

Once your discharge prescriptions have been written, you have the option to receive medication counseling performed by the pharmacist at your bedside. During theeducation session, the pharmacist will review what the medication is used for, how to properly take the medication and the potential side effects that may occur. You'll also receive medication information brochures that describe the medication, its use and common potential side effects.

Ambulatory care pharmacy

Pharmacists in the Ambulatory Care Pharmacies provide education about new medications to all patients. Counseling is interactive. Pharmacists ask open-ended questions to evaluate your understanding of the medications. They will also check on your ability to safely administer less commonly used dosage forms like oral or nasal inhaler devices. They will review with you the name and strength of the medication, description of the drug, the medication's indication for use, instructions for administration, expectations regarding the specific therapy, potential adverse reactions, warnings and precautions and proper storage of the medication. You may also receive written medication information, medication administration calendars and/or training devices or pictures.

Formal medication instruction

The Department of Pharmaceutical Care provides formalized medication instruction to targeted patient populations who require it. These patients generally have serious medical conditions that make appropriate medication usage vital to their successful medical treatment. Patients may be instructed in groups or they may receive lengthy one-on-one training with a pharmacist who is specialized in a particular area of drug therapy. In either case, the instruction is intended to make the patient extremely knowledgeable about his / her medication therapy and reduce the incidence of future hospitalizations because of medication misuse or noncompliance. Specialized patient instruction is provided to the following patient groups: Cancer Chemotherapy, Medical Cardiology, Internal Medicine / Geriatric / Digestive Diseases, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology / Bone Marrow Transplantation, Adult Bone Marrow Transplantation, Solid Organ Transplantation, Psychiatric Disorder and Pulmonary.

Financial counseling

The Ambulatory Care Pharmacies have a pharmacist financial counselor available to work with patients who may be having difficulties paying for their medications. That pharmacist will help patients understand what resources might be available to them to help cover the cost of prescription medications. For example, the pharmacist might suggest the patient be screened by social services to see if he or she qualifies for any public aid. The pharmacist also communicates with prescribers to suggest less expensive but equally effective medications, or might also suggest one of several medication assistance programs available for specific medications the patient is taking.

Last reviewed: 
May 2016

Transfer your prescriptions to a UI Health Care pharmacy

Pharmacist helping patient

There are many benefits to having your prescriptions filled at our pharmacies. Use one simple online form to transfer your prescriptions. 

Why transfer?

  • UI Health Care doctors and pharmacists work from the same records, keeping you safe and making sure your medications are doing exactly what they’re intended to do.
  • You can refill or renew prescriptions online with MyChart or the MyChart app.
  • You can pick up your prescriptions at one of our convenient locations or get them by delivery.
  • You can receive expert advice from our pharmacists, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transfer your prescriptions today.

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