Taking Your Medicines Correctly – Here’s How – The Pill Card

Update 9-1-2020: Here is a better and simpler resource on how to take your medicines correctly – How to Create a Pill Card from the Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality

All that follows is from the above guide:

This guide was designed to help users create an easy-to-use “pill card” for patients, parents, or anyone who has a hard time keeping track of their medicines. Step-by-step instructions, sample clip art, and suggestions for design and use will help to customize a reminder card.

To create your own pill card, download the Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version – 796.5 KB . Follow the directions to create and use your personalized pill card.

Select to download print version ( How to Create a Pill Card [ PDF file – 292.88 KB] KB).

Go to the Pharmacy Health Literacy Center for both technical assistance and information on related AHRQ tools.


How to Create a Pill Card
Why Create a Pill Card?
What You Will Need to Create a Pill Card
Getting Ready to Create a Personalized Pill Card
Creating a Personalized Pill Card
Using a Personalized Pill Card
Pill Card Template
Common Pill Shapes
Common Images for Medication Uses
Acknowledgment and Disclaimer

What follows is better demonstrated in the link above. I just left it in to remind myself of the first try below.

What follows is from Medical Errors in Patients With CKD: Know Your Numbers! Lynda Szczech, MD, MSE DISCLOSURES June 16, 2017.

Taking your medicines correctly (right time, right dose) can be very complicated, here is the very practical method that Dr. Szczech used for her mom:

What did I do for my mother? I began by creating a spreadsheet or a grid on a piece of paper, where I listed her medications, the times of her doses, and the number of pills she would take at each time of day. In each column, you could see how many pills she was taking at each time and what other medications she was taking concurrent with a new drug that was being added. I did it in pencil, because medications change and you have to erase the old ones and add the new medications to the list. With each change, I would take a picture with my phone and send it to my mother’s cell phone. I would keep the original on the refrigerator door—everything important goes on the refrigerator door—and her doctors would periodically receive a copy. This is how we would reconcile her medications. When a new medication was prescribed, I would add it to the list in front of the doctor so that the doctor could see the other medications she was taking it with at breakfast, dinnertime, and bedtime.
It was a very powerful tool. I used this grid to fill her pillboxes. She had a pillbox with four rows of boxes to correspond with the four times a day she took medications. This grid was always available in case she had to fill her own pillboxes. Or, if I was not with her, questions could be answered.

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