Safe Use of Medicines

Safe Use of Medicines

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There are a lot of resources available to help you use your medicines safely and effectively. Below are some resources to help you:

  • learn more about your medicines,
  • use your medicines safely, and
  • to make decisions about what medicines are right for you.

Asking questions about your medicines

It can be hard to decide what medicines are right for you and to learn how to take them safely. You might find it helpful to ask your doctor or your pharmacist some questions about any medicines they recommend for you. You can find a list of questions to ask before taking a medicine on the Healthdirect website. Asking questions can help you take your medicines safely and effectively.

If you need medical advice or second opinions about your medicines, contact a health care professional. Healthdirect’s Service Finder can help you find a health care professional to meet your needs.

Health Direct has a wide range of resources to help you understand and use medicines safely. You can also search for a medicine by brand name or active ingredient, using the ‘Medicines’ search function. Information available about medicines includes:

  • important information about how your medicine works
  • a list of possible side effects, how serious these are and what to do if you experience them; and
  • other essential safety information about your medicine

Keeping track of your medicines

It is important to keep track of what you are taking and when and whether you have taken them. There are lots of ways to keep track, including:

Some ways to organise your medicines:

Electronic prescriptions

Many doctors are now using electronic prescriptions so that you can manage your scripts on your phone or computer. Some pharmacies have apps that let you see your current prescriptions and order refills. Learn more about electronic prescriptions on the Australia Digital Health Agency website or watch this webinar from HCCA’s members forum.

Medicine Reviews and Disposal

A pharmacist can review your medicines at home or in the pharmacy if you take over five medicines or have had a recent major health event, like going to hospital. A review in the pharmacy is called a MedsCheck and is usually done by appointment. Talk to your local pharmacist to book.

A Home Medicines Review is where a pharmacist comes you your home and talks to you and your family about whether your medicines are working with you and whether you are taking them correctly. This can involve other members of your care team, like nurses and support workers. You can ask your GP to refer you for a review.

Take your unused and unwanted medicines into your pharmacy for collection and disposal through the Return Unwanted Medicines program.

Medicines Line

To get advice about a medicine, you can call Medicines Line from anywhere in Australia, on 1300 633 424 between 9am and 5pm (AEST) for the cost of a local call. Medicines Line gives consumers with information on a range of medicines, including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamin and mineral). Information provided by Medicines Line includes:

  • how to take your medicines
  • possible side effects
  • interactions with other medicines
  • medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • medicines for children
  • storage of medicines
  • how to find Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) for your prescription medicines
  • referrals to reliable services and support organisations, e.g. support organisations for people with your health condition.

When something goes wrong with your medicine

Reporting a problem related to your medicine can help improve safety for everybody. To report a problem or to get advice when something goes wrong with a medicine, you can contact the Adverse Medicines Event Line on 1300 134 237 between 9am and 5pm (AEST) for the cost of a local call.

The Adverse Medicine Events Line:

  • Gives consumers with a way to report when things have gone wrong with medicines
  • Gives consumers advice about medicine safety
  • Ensures that problems with your medicines are taken seriously.

You can help improve safety for everybody by calling the Adverse Medicines Event Line to tell them if you have experienced a problem related to your medicines.

In an emergency

Please remember that these services are not for emergencies.

Last Updated on 31 January, 2024.