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Leave Medication in Original Packaging

As most who work in the emergency medical service (EMS), we despise those stupid pill containers. I am referring to the containers that hold the doses of all medications by day or time, not the original prescription bottle. (The very same ones that home health nurses love). When we run a medical call in the ambulance, one of the first basic questions we ask of the patient is what their medications are. Time after time, they hand us, or point out the pill pack containers. We can NOT identify the medications by that, nor can the hospital ER staff.


A pharmacist has to get involved and that costs time that some patients may not have. Do you know how many little white pills have the number 20 on them? Is that 20mg of prednisone, or 20mg of furosemide, or 20 mg of lisinopril? Each one indicates a different health issue. Please, please leave your medication in the original bottles. Use easy non child proof caps on them (your pharmacy will do this for you if you ask). Have 2 small boxes, as you take them, move them from one box to the other. Green box means you have taken them for that day. Red box means you have not. Have a medication you take 2 or 4 times a day? Ask your pharmacy for it to be divided into 2 or 4 bottles.

Many patients live alone, there is no one to tell us where the original pharmacy bottles are at so we can tell what they are. Others have family there, but they either don't know, or in a state of mind from the emergency that they can't tell us.

I know, everyone thinks their pill system is OK, but when it happens to you, you will see it differently. If you are in the EMS business, then you already know what I am talking about.

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February 27, 20160 found this helpful

I keep my meds in original packaging at home, but I also carry a small supply in a little pill container in my purse. It's not the daily one, it's a square with 4 compartments. But, I always worried that if I should have any incident where I have to submit to a search or have an emergency, I could be in trouble because they were not labeled. There is a solution as long as you are keeping one kind of pill per compartment.


Either write or type the pill name and size (10 mg, 20 mg etc) on small pieces of paper, tape securely to the container lids of each pill. You can shrink the font on a computer to make the labels fit. However you do it make sure it is legible and securely taped, and have a backup so you can replace the label should it wear off. Solves the problem and keeps anyone from wondering what those strange pills are that you have in your purse.

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February 28, 20160 found this helpful

I'm adding to my other comment stressing the importance of keeping an accurate & up to date medication list. The daily pill containers are of great benefit for those living alone, elderly, or with memory impairments where moving pharmacy bottles from one box to another as they are taken won't work. For those taking the same medication multiple times per day this is especially confusing. Additional pharmacy bottles for each dosage throughout the day adds to the confusion. Many people in this situation don't know which pills to take at which time of day so pills must be put in those daily pill containers, or weekly pill containers.


Sometimes the patient cannot open the pharmacy bottles and having bottles with easy-open caps isn't always the solution when frail hands cannot manipulate the caps & get the proper dose from the bottle. Sometimes there are vision impairments making it difficult to read the labels, even large print. Note: Easy-open caps might not be safe if there are children living in or visiting the household.

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February 28, 20160 found this helpful

Mom-from-Missouri is right about the daily pill containers in the event of a medical emergency. But this situation need not be complicated. Be sure to keep a list of your medications, legible, accurate, and up-to-date and marked with the date it was created or updated. Keep the med list with the daily pill container, easily visible on the refrigerator, if you carry a purse keep a copy in your purse with your identification, and keep a copy with the original pill bottles from the pharmacy.


Keep the med list in not just one of these places, but all. The EMTs will need it as well as the ER. They don't have time to search or guess, neither do you in an emergency situation.

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