Your Medicine Cabinet: 3 R’s of Safe Medication Use

Here are the facts from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Adverse drug events (ADEs) are a serious public health problem. It is estimated that:

  • 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more [1];
  • 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to ADEs annually [2];

    taking medication
    Credit: John Getty_taking medication
  • $3.5 billion is spent on extra medical costs of ADEs annually [3];
  • At least 40% of costs of ambulatory (non-hospital settings) ADEs are estimated to be preventable [3].

How can we keep our families, children and caregivers safe? Start with the 3 R’s for safe medication use


Know there are RISKS: All medicines, prescription and nonprescription, herbals, over the counter, natural supplements all have RISKS as well as benefits. You need to weigh these risks and benefits carefully for every medicine you take by discussing each medication use with your doctor or ask your pharmacist.

RESPECT: Yes, Respect the power of your medicine or medications and the value of medicines properly used.

Providers and patients have RESPONSIBILITY: 2013 Health Report by Pew Internet & American Life Project found that one in three American

adults have gone online to learn more about a medical condition.

Here are some highlights from the Pew report:

  • Eight in ten online health inquiries start at a search engine (such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing).
  • Specific diseases and treatments continue to dominate people’s online queries.

The point here: Communication is Key! The fact is that better medicine communication between patients and their healthcare providers can lead to safe and appropriate medicine use – and better health. Ask questions and if you are not sure what to ask? Refer to our 10 questions to ask before taking any medication. Take responsibility for learning about how to take your medication safely. The best way to do that is again to ask and discuss with your physician and/or pharmacist.

Do you have any questions regarding medication management strategies? Post our Facebook Page, on Twitter @carerxpharmd.

Sources: Medication Use Safety Training for Seniors™ , National Council on Patient Information and Education.*Adapted from American Society of Consultant Pharmacist

  1. Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University. Patterns of medication use in the United States, 2006.  [PDF – 141 KB]
  2. Budnitz DS, Pollock DA, Weidenbach KN, Mendelsohn AB, Schroeder TJ, Annest JL. National surveillance of emergency department visits for outpatient adverse drug events. JAMA 2006;296:1858-66.
  3. Institute of Medicine. Committee on Identifying and Preventing Medication Errors. Preventing Medication Errors, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2006.
Dr Goldina Erowele

Dr Goldina Erowele

PharmD, Editor of CareNovate Magazine,
If you'd like to write an actionable health care tip, patient and medication safety post for CareNovate Magazine or, then check out our Contribute page for details. We'd love to share caregiver's & patient's experiences with our community.
Dr Goldina Erowele

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