Organizing Prescription Paperwork
This is not an article to make you feel guilty. But there are good reasons for the paperwork that comes with any prescription and it is useful to have a system to keep track of who is taking what prescription in what amount and for how long, especially if there is a chronic illness or several prescriptions being taken at any one time.
First, it is wise to handle the paperwork that comes with prescriptions as soon as they come into your home. There will probably be both receipts that might help document a reduction to your taxes and also the specific drug information to help you understand allergic reactions, the proper way to ingest the medication, and certain life threatening possibilities. In addition, you might want to make some summary notes for easy reference in the future.
So let’s tackle this problem bit by bit until we have a simple system that works. Remember, whenever we get organized, we look at three needs: tools, systems, and routines.
Tools. It will be useful to keep all prescriptions receipts for one year’s time in one central location, usually a labeled file folder, for example: Prescription Receipts – 2010. This folder might be kept with your 2010 Taxes folder for convenience in both finding it now and knowing where the receipts are when you prepare tax forms next year.
It would be best if this folder was taped on both ends to keep the smaller receipt slips from falling out the sides and getting lost.
System. Everyone has different systems, or in other words methods, for dealing with paperwork, but we know three things about most of us. We tend to put paperwork down instead of putting it away, we tend to move our piles around without filing them, and we tend to lose a lot of paperwork, at least for the moment.
Thus, a good system for prescriptions receipts is to always put the receipt in the Prescriptions Receipts – 2010 folder.
Routine. Routines are the “when” of doing a project. When we rip the prescription receipt off the prescription sack, we will want to put it away in the Prescriptions Receipts – 2010 folder. No laying it down on the counter, setting it on a paperwork pile, or managing to get it lost by setting it down carelessly somewhere else in the house.
Tools. Again, it will be useful to have a secure place to keep the sheets of medical information that come with your prescriptions. A simple method is a labeled 3-ring binder with individual, labeled dividers for each family member.
Click here to download a Prescriptions Binder spine form.
Click here to download a Prescriptions Binder cover form.
System. A good system for handling drug paperwork is to take it out of the sack when you remove the prescription bottle, take a moment to read it, and then punch and confine it behind the proper family member’s binder divider.
Routine. The “when” of reading and filing prescription paperwork is a bit trickier. Many times, we don’t have the time or the inclination to read the fine print right away. The children need dinner or the ill person needs their medication, and so we put this paperwork down with good intentions of reading it later.
I would like to suggest that when you put the paperwork down, you put it down in the right place, the Prescriptions Paperwork Binder. Put it behind a divider at the front of the binder that is labeled: Unread Rx Info. This way the paperwork is confined properly (so it won’t get lost) and is designated as unread. After you have a chance to review this paperwork, it can be put behind the proper individual family member’s divider.
Tools. Use a simple form to summarize all prescription information for easy reference. These forms would be kept right behind each individual binder divider for easy reference. The headers of this form would be:
Reason for Rx/Date/Name of Family Member/Doctor/Rx Number/Rx Details
An example of the form filled out would be:
warts/October 2010/John Jones/Dr. Sharp/ #3342567/Apply liquid to wart three times/day for 2 weeks
System. When a prescription is brought home, the receipt is filed, and the detailed paperwork confined, these six details can be entered in the Prescriptions Summary form. Note the details for each individual on their own summary form. This saves confusion.
Routine. Again, it is best to take a moment as soon as possible after arriving home to make these important notations. The situation is fresh on your mind and the bottle is often right in your hand.
Tools. Some family members will have chronic health problems. It is useful to have a simple Prescriptions Currently Taken form that lists all their current prescriptions. The header for this form might have the following entries:
Reason for Rx/Date Rx Begun/Date Ended/Doctor/Rx Name/Dose/Frequency/Directions
System. My father had several chronic health issues during the last years of his life. I considered such a Prescriptions Currently Taken form for the first time when his primary doctor asked me about the various medications he was taking and discovered an overlap of two similar medications for the same medical problem prescribed by two different doctors during a particularly critical time. Of course, this situation was rectified, but I’ve often wondered at the degradation in his health and the cost of such an oversight.
Routine. I encourage you to take this Prescriptions Currently Taken form with you whenever you see any physician that is not your primary doctor so that all those participating in the well being of your family member can have a completely clear and accurate understanding of prescription details.
Remember, taking prescriptions is meant to alleviate a lot of suffering, but it also means a responsibility to keep reasonable records. The forms I have shared are available by clicking on the links above. Take a moment this week and set up your own Prescriptions Paperwork binder. Use the systems and routines I have encouraged. Soon, you will feel confident and comfortable about saving prescription documentation and information properly. Lots of important papers will now have a home. Your family member’s prescription history will be safe and you will be able to speak to any physician about the current prescriptions in your loved one’s life.
Oh, it feels good to have one more paperwork challenge under control!
Photos from sxc.hu. Used with permission of alaasafei.