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AMA Urges Patients: Give Your Home A Medicine Cabinet Check-Up

For immediate release:
March 5, 2012

During Patient Safety Awareness Week, know your medications and how to dispose of them

Washington, D.C.What is the best way to get rid of medications you no longer need? Are all of my medicines safe to use together? During Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 4-10), the American Medical Association (AMA) is helping patients with answers to these and other questions on the best ways to manage their medications and protect themselves and their families from medication misuse. The AMA is introducing a new medication safety disposal guide. The guide offers ways to keep potentially harmful medications out of public water supplies and away from small children, who may accidentally ingest them, or teenagers and adults who may misuse them.

"Many patients use prescription and over-the-counter medications as part of their health care routine, but if not properly disposed of these otherwise beneficial drugs can be extremely harmful," said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. "It is easy to accumulate expired or unneeded medications in a medicine cabinet, and Patient Safety Awareness Week provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the best way to get rid of these potential hazards."

The AMA also offers patients tools to track medications and discuss them with their physicians. The medication safety checklist helps patients record the prescription medications, vitamins, home remedies and alternative therapies they use and easily provide that information to their physician. The AMA's MyMedications app, available on iTunes, allows patients to store information on prescriptions, immunization records and allergies, and email that information to health care providers and family members.

"Patients with multiple conditions may see more than one prescribing physician and use other non-prescription medicines, so it is critically important to make sure these treatments are safe together," said Dr. Carmel. "The AMA encourages patients to discuss with their physicians all vitamins and medications, including prescription and over-the-counter, that they are currently taking. The medication safety checklist and MyMedications app provide great ways to start this important discussion and safely manage your medications."

Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 4-10, 2012) is an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety led by the National Patient Safety Foundation. More information about this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week activities can be found at http://www.npsf.org/events-forums/patient-safety-awareness-week/.



Heather Lasher Todd
AMA Media Relations

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