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For Patients and Families

The following tips may help you care for yourself (if you are the patient) or your family member at home:

Medication Safety Tip

  • Refill prescriptions early enough to avoid running out.
  • Keep your pharmacist informed of all medications you are taking (including non-prescription medications) and of any allergies you may have. Your pharmacist can help you avoid harmful reactions.
  • Talk with your nurse, physician, or pharmacist about proper storage of medication. Generally, medications should be stored together, out of the direct sunlight in a cool, dry place. Do not keep medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet, where heat and humidity may cause them to lose their effectiveness. All containers should have childproof caps and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. (The top shelf of a closet is a good storage place.)
    • Insulin should be stored as directed.
    • Supplemental feedings (e.g., Ensure) can be kept at room temperature until opened, after which they need to be refrigerated.
    • Total parenteral nutrition solutions need to be refrigerated on a separate shelf of your refrigerator.
  • Always take your medication in a well-lit room. Read the label to make sure you are taking the right medication. If you do not understand the directions, ask your nurse, physician, or pharmacist for clarification.
  • Take your medication as your physician has prescribed. If you have any unused medication, discard it by flushing it down the toilet.
  • Before transferring medications into a pill organizer (box), be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Keep the organizer dry and clean.
  • If you miss a dose or several doses, ask your nurse, physician, or pharmacist for further directions (unless you were given specific instruction beforehand).
  • Do not take medication when the expiration date has passed. Not only will it be ineffective, it may be harmful. Discard the medication by flushing it down the toilet.
  • Your medication has been prescribed specifically for you. Do not share it with other members of your family or with friends; they could have a serious allergic reaction.

Home Safety Guidelines

  • Throw rugs should not be used. You can trip on them and fall.
  • Passageways should be clear to allow easy transit at all times.
  • Keep stairways completely free of all items. Do not use for storage.
  • Electrical cords should not have any exposed wires. Cover plates should be placed on all outlets. Safety caps prevent curious children from inserting anything into outlets. Electrical cords should be taped down in high-traffic areas.
  • Electrical equipment should be used with a ground adapter if you do not have a three-pronged outlet.
  • When oxygen is in use in the home, no one should smoke or light a match. If gas appliances are used, the oxygen should not be in the same room or even in the next room. In case of a power failure, be sure to switch over to your portable oxygen and call the utility company to remind them that you are dependent on electricity for your health care. The oxygen supplier may have already notified the utility company of this fact.
  • Do not operate kerosene heaters without proper ventilation.
  • Use smoke alarms and test them monthly. Never reset, bypass, or cover alarms. If you do not have a smoke alarm and cannot afford one, please contact your local fire department for assistance.