How to Organize Medication and Doctor Information: Stay Organized
If you frequently see the doctor or are on a lot of medication, it is a very good idea to stay organized and keep all of your doctor’s informed about what you are doing and what medications you are on. This can be a challenge. It can also be a challenge to keep up with all your medication changes, lists, reminders, pill containers, and the dates of your next doctor’s appointment.
Medication Charts or Lists
There are many ways you can go about making your own useful pill chart or list. You may want one just for your purposes and for the purposes of the doctor treating your specific problem. For example, you may want a personal list that lists the reasons you started the medication and any side effects you experience while on it. This list may be comprehensive for when you see a different doctor who only needs to know the names of the medications you are taking. I would recommend with any personal use list that you separate it by time of day so that it is easy for you to see what you take in the morning, afternoon, and evening separately.
You can create a spreadsheet that simply lists out your medications, their strengths, and how often you take each one.
You can create the same spreadsheet as above, but add a start date and list the doctor prescribing the medication, the reason you are on it, the side effects you are experiencing or have experienced, and any notes you may wish to add (i.e. on May 4, 2004 we upped the dosage to 6mg, because of such and such episode). This may help you and your prescribing doctor. You may also wish to add a tab called “discontinued medications.” Here you can cut and paste the medications you stop and add a stop date with the reason for stopping to it. Later, this will show you what medications you have tried for whatever medical condition and why you or your doctor decided not to continue with it.
Simple Word Document
You can create a word processing document that simply lists the name of the medication, the strength, the amount, and the reason you are on it. You could keep this short list in your purse for whenever you visit a new doctor, and they ask you fill out forms. Instead, you can politely ask if they would just make a photocopy of the list, rather than having you list all of them out.
There are a variety of types of medication organizers at your local pharmacy or drugstore. Finding the correct amount of room for your particular number of pills is very important.
Large Pill Container
If you feel you can manage a large container, then that might be easiest, because then, each week, you would only have to fill up one container.
One Container For All
If you take few enough pills to fit in a 4-slot per day container, then again, that is easiest, because each week, you only have to fill up one container.
If you find it easier for you during the day to remember to take your pills if you have one for the morning, one for the afternoon, and one for the evening, then you will have to have 3 containers that accordingly fit the amount of pills you take during those times of day. Also, at the end of the week, you will have to stock 3 pill containers rather than one.
There is a vast variety of ways you can organize your pills if you find the right pill containers and the right system that works for you. Make sure it works for you on a daily basis first and foremost. Then, see what the ease in filling it each week will be. If you stock up your pills for a month, you can buy 4 sets of your pill container choice and fill up one per week. Then, you only have to stock your pills once a month.
There are a variety of pill reminders as most people do need them.
Many people use the alarm on their cell phone.
There are tons of free applications you can download on your cell phone
You can set an alarm for when they are needed.
Some people go by meal time. Its breakfast time, time to take my morning pills, etc.
However, with some people, their body just automatically knows when it’s that time.
Doctors' Visits and Notes
Some doctor’s, even with insurance, charge you $90 to $150. Why not be ready to ask him everything that is on your mind. Be prepared! Have a notebook at all times to write down everything he says and to be able to ask them everything you have written down. Write down:
What to Keep Track Of
• Any new health conditions or concerns
• Medication changes you wish to try
• Personal problems or trauma you wish to discuss
• Other medical issues that don’t pertain to his or her specialty
• Your full list of medications (as discussed above, in detail) and be prepared to give him or her a copy. They may wish to make a photocopy for their charts.
• Present any social rhythm charts, such as showing your mood swings, how much sleep you’ve gotten, how much you’ve been working, how you have been getting along with others, any major incidents that have occurred that are out of the ordinary, any fever or cold symptoms you have experienced, how much you have been drinking and smoking, how many non-daily prescription drugs you have had to take and why, and any suicidal impulses you’ve had.
• All side effects you’ve recently experienced
• Any new doctor, medication, procedure, etc. that this doctor does not know about.
Getting the Most out of Your Visit
- Make sure you have those notes written in advance, because doctors are in a hurry, and you may not remember them all at the moment of the visit, and then, later kick yourself for forgetting to ask about something.
- Keep a record of any changes he makes (then go home and make those changes in your charts, lists, and containers) and why he made them.
- List all of his suggestions for your side effects.
- List anything that he tells you do to that does not involve stopping or starting a new medication.
- Make sure you have the number to the Referral Department and a contact name if he is referring you to another doctor.
- Find out what he wants to do next given your current problem.
- Make sure he examines you for all of your mentioned problem areas.
- Ask him any general questions while he is in the room. One time, I just mentioned to my doctor that I wanted to go on a diet, and he got out a piece of paper during a visit and wrote out a diet for me, and I followed it and lost 30 pounds! That wasn’t even what I was seeing him for.
- Make sure you get all of your time. If you are paying for a 30-minute psychiatrist visit, don’t let him shoo you out after 20 minutes. If you are paying for a 15-minute doctor visit, don’t let him rush thru checking you over without doing much and giving you some lame advice. Ask concrete questions that he must answer in order for you to know what you need to do to fix your problems.
- Always ask for home remedies. Doctors aren’t always going to fix your problems with medicated patches, pain pills, tranquilizers, or muscle relaxers. Ask what he suggests you do without those things. Heat or cold? A referral to a physical therapist? A new counselor? He should be able to at least answer those questions.
- Make him go above and beyond. He is working for you! Make certain that all your questions, things you wanted to say and ask – make sure it is all said, no matter how much of a rush he is in. Just tell him to hold on, and read your notes. Make him wait so you ensure that you have everything covered. If you go in with a sprained ankle, and he’s treating that, but you wrote down a note about your pink eye, don’t let him race out of the room saying a nurse will be back with a splint. If you have to tell him first about the pink eye so that he knows there is more to the visit than examining your ankle. Perhaps, this way he will know he has to take care of that item too.