The American Pharmaceutical Association, representing the nation’s pharmacists, suggests the following guidelines to prevent medicine mix-ups:

Be sure that your name is on every container of medication. If the drug is for a child, be sure that the pharmacy puts the child’s name on the label.

  • Never take a medication out of its original container to store it.
  • Highlight the patient’s name and the expiration date with a marker so they can be easily seen. Use a different color marker for each member of the family.Read the entire label every time you take medication yourself or give it to a family member.
  • If you have stopped taking a particular medicine but have some left, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Many medications should be taken until they are all gone, and having leftovers could indicate that the medication was not taken properly.
  • Throw away any medicine that has not been used in six months.
  • Do not share medicines. Medication should be taken only by the patient for whom it was prescribed.
  • Keep a permanent list of all medications taken by each family member as part of your family’s history.