consumer health

Sleep—When You Don’t Snooze, You Lose!

thumb_sleep.jpgPopular culture teaches us that "if you snooze you lose," but research shows just the opposite—sleep is important! Learn why getting quality sleep is essential to health. Find out what happens when we get the right kind of sleep and what negative consequences, like loss of productivity, result from not getting enough rest. Review tips and tricks to improve sleep patterns.

Sleep: The Facts

How much sleep do you need?*star-161973_640.png

  • Infants: as much as 16 hours per day
  • 1-5 years: 10-14 hours per day
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours per day
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours per day
  • Adults: 7-9 hours per day

*Learn more at:

  • According to the CDC, "More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10% experience chronic insomnia."
  • A MedlinePlus article reports "recent national surveys show that 30 % of U.S. adults sleep fewer than 7 hours a night. As many as 30 % of adults report daytime sleepiness....[and] 70 % of adolescents sleep less than the recommended 8-9 hours each night."
  • It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.
  • Lack of sleep plays a role in "on the job accidents" such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Meltdown and numerous plane and ship incidents.
  • "Little Sleep, BIG COST" Infographic ~American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Explore more sleep disorder myths/facts

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep" (PDF available online) is designed for patients and provides a comprehensive review of important sleep-related information.

Benefits of Sleep

Sleeping the right amount of hours:sleep_benefits.jpg

  • Improves our ability to:
    • Learn
    • Focus
    • Remember
    • Problem solve
    • And be creative
  • Lowers blood pressure and allows our heart and blood vessels to rest
  • Helps certain hormones regulate:
    • Growth
    • The repair of cells and tissues
    • The immune system (to fight infection)
    • Blood sugar levels (which affect energy)
    • Appetite
  • Boosts our mood
  • Helps us better manage our emotions and behaviors (impulse control)

Why is Sleep Important? from NIH

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Symptoms of not getting enough sleep may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Moodiness and/or emotional instability
  • Poor impulse control
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased appetite
  • Accident prone
  • Reduced accuracy
  • Decreased productivity
Did you know...

  • After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven't slept at all for a day or two.
  • Lack of sleep also may lead to microsleep. Microsleep refers to brief moments of sleep that occur when you're normally awake. ~NIH

Think about what vital information might be missed during a microsleep that occurs at work, while driving, in a classroom, on the telephone, in a healthcare setting, while operating machinery....

Learn more: Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety from Harvard Medical School's Sleep Medicine Department

In the U.S., sleep deprivation contributes to $50 billion dollars in lost productivity each year
See even more startling statistics at: Sleep Disorders & Insufficient Sleep: Improving Health through Research from the NIH

Insufficient sleep has been linked to these chronic diseases/conditions:

My Body, My Frenemy

Our relationship with our bodies directly impacts our overall health and wellbeing.

How do YOU view your body?

Is it your friend?
A means to an end?
A “vehicle?”
An enemy or a rival?

This workshop illustrates how we can improve our health by reframing how we relate to our bodies.
Learn how to mindfully turn your body into your ally!


noun: frenemy; plural noun: frenemies
definition: a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.

What is Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

[Preamble to the Constitution of WHO as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June - 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of WHO, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. The definition has not been amended since 1948. See this link]

Our Thoughts Shape Reality

What is your perception of life and the state of your body (your health)? Do you focus on fighting disease OR on creating health? Which point of view is "better" and why might that be?

What shapes and influences our perceptions of "health?" Answers to that vary but may include personal experience(s), family, friends, society, Institutions, national policies/rules, culture, media...

Our mindset can create either an adversarial or a cooperative/collaborative relationship with our bodies and minds.

Countless studies show that a positive attitude leads to a longer, healthier life.

Internal and External Factors that Support Health & Wellbeing

Internal Traits include being:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Hopeful
  • Engaged
  • Emotionally balanced
  • Resilient

External Factors include:

  • Education
  • Basic Needs Met (food, shelter, security)
  • Economic Stability
  • Strong Social Network (including emotional support)
  • Traditions (familial, cultural, religious)
  • What other internal or external factors do you think contribute to overall health & well being?


    "Self-efficacy is defined as people's beliefs in their capabilities to produce desired effects by their own actions," according to J. E. Maddux.

    Given this definition, why do you think self-efficacy is thought to play a large role in physical and psychological health?

    Recommended Reading

    How your attitudes affect your health. (2016). Harvard Women's Health Watch, 23(9), 1-7. Retrieved from Health Source: Consumer Edition database.

    Maddux, J. E. (2007). Self-Efficacy. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 814-817). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) database.

    The mystery of health: Salutogenesis. (2014). Mayo Clinic Health Letter, 32(1), 7. Retrieved from Health Source: Consumer Edition database.

Preparing for Hospital Stays & Procedures

Whether they are unexpected or pre-arranged, planning for a hospital stay (inpatient) or day surgery (outpatient) procedure can be stressful and worrisome. Here are some practical articles on how to navigate planned and unexpected visits to hospitals, ERs or day-surgery (outpatient) facilities.

"Keep Cool" using the ICE technique!

Create ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts & documents IN ADVANCE

  • Current medication list, medical conditions/medical history, insurance & healthcare provider contact information--print, electronic, flash drive
  • Emergency contacts (e.g. print or electronic document or programmed into cell phone)
  • Also includes medical alert jewelry, wallet cards, etc.
  • Create Living Will, Power of Attorney for Health Care, and/or "5 Wishes" documents and share with providers, facilities, friends/family
  • HINT: Bring MULTIPLE copies!

Use the "Buddy System"

Don't try to navigate the healthcare system alone. Have a trusted partner, friend, relative or professional service provider accompany you for support and advocacy!

  • Buddies provide stress relief and companionship
  • Buddies can serve as another "set of eyes and ears," advocates, questioners, representatives of your wishes, communicators (to family/friends and health professionals)
  • Many procedures, surgeries, facilities will REQUIRE patients to be accompanied by an adult that can drive or escort patients home and be present during a procedure in case of emergency

Know Your W5H1s!


  • Check with insurance & healthcare providers, hospitals & outpatient facilities to find out the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How (W5H1)
  • If you are not clear about any aspect of the process, ASK and continue asking until you've been given an answer
  • Don't be rude--be empowered and understand your role and responsibilities in the process
  • Rely on your advocate (buddy or buddies) to ask on your behalf if you cannot!
  • Buddies, it is YOUR job to look out for your patient--little things mean a LOT!
Patients are responsible for:
  • Providing proof of insurance and understanding plan coverage
  • Providing a comprehensive list of medications (including prescription, over the counter, herbs & supplements)
  • Following directions regarding eating and drinking prior to any procedure or surgery
  • Asking about and following directions regarding taking (or refraining from taking) medications prior to procedures or surgery
  • Notifying health professionals if you come down with a fever, cold or any other illness prior to a scheduled procedure
  • Asking questions when unclear about any step in the process
  • Understanding diseases/conditions and treatment options (medications, procedures)

Waiting Room Tips

Find a Doctor, Dentist or Medical Facility

thumb_question.JPGDo you need to find a new general practitioner (GP) or specialist? Have you been given a choice of medical facilities where a procedure or surgery can occur? Do you need help making an informed decision? Using the tips and resources on this guide, locate credible information on health care providers and health care facilities. Be proactive and make the best decision for YOU! There are both qualitative and quantitative factors that go into selecting healthcare providers and facilities.

Ask yourself...

Do you spend more time researching a "big ticket" purchase (car, vacation package, household appliance) than you do a health care provider or medical facility?

Can you answer these questions...

When you receive a referral to a medical facility or health care provider, what major factors contribute to the referral? Are your best interests the top priority, or is a referral based on factors that have nothing to do with you or your needs?

Before making your decision, did you consider*...
  • Insurance
  • Location
  • Accessibility (physical access, hours of operation, scheduling, after-hours support)
  • Communication style (of individuals, "office" and/or facility)
  • Health care provider or facility accreditation
  • Health care provider or facility affiliations
  • Experience (service, disease/condition, surgery)
  • History (quantitative and/or qualitative)
  • Whether religion, gender or specialization matters
  • Whether or not the provider is familiar with alternative treatment methods and open to using them
  • Specific patient preferences & needs
    • "My son is only 6, does it matter if his health care provider is experienced with kids or has a pediatric specialty?"

*Considerations are in no particular order*

Making the "right choice" requires collaboration and communication between health care providers and patients

Recommended Reading

How to Find the Right Doctor from US News & World Report's Health & Wellness Section

Choosing a Doctor or Health Care Service topic page from MedlinePlus

Why being able to talk to your doctor matters
from the National Institute on Aging

Health Facilities topic page from MedlinePlus

How to Choose the Best Hospital for Surgery from the MedlinePlus Encyclopedia

Find a Doctor

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is an organization of 24 approved medical specialty boards. The intent of the certification of physicians is to provide assurance to the public that those certified by an ABMS Member Board have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in the specialty. Free registration required to receive search results

AMA Physician Select: Online Doctor Finder
The American Medical Association Physician Select database provides basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States and its possessions, including more than 690,000 doctors of medicine (MD) and doctors of osteopathy or osteopathic medicine (DO)

Chicago's "Top Doctors"

Chicago magazine's biennial list of outstanding metro-area doctors is published in the January edition. The latest ranking, from 2020, includes 356 Doctors in 60+ specialties (including sub-specialties). The online list can be searched by specialty. Click here for the online edition or visit the COD Library to view the print edition.

MEDLINEplus National Library of Medicine Directories
Arranges directory links into categories including physicians, specialists, hospitals, services, and facilities

Physician Profile Search: Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
Search by Physician name to access information profiles on all physicians currently licensed in the State of Illinois. Includes license information, disciplinary and legal actions, primary office locations, hospital affiliations, board certifications, medical school and post graduate education and more

WebMD Physician Directory
Search for a physician by name, medical specialty, distance from your home, HMO plan, hospital affiliation, or other criteria

Find a Dentist

Chicagoland Dental Profiles

Nominations from more than 1,300 Chicago-area dentists contributed to the 2016 Chicagoland Dental Profiles. Here is the list of the 270 chosen dentists in eight specialties. Click here for the online edition or visit the COD Library to view the print edition.

Find an Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Dentist
Use their online search tool to get references for general dentists within a specific geographic area. Or call the AGD’s consumer referral line, 1.877.2X.A.YEAR, to connect with three AGD member dentists. Provides tips and suggestions on how to select a Dentist.

Mouth Healthy
From the ADA (American Dental Association), use the simple or advanced search options to find a member Dentist near you

How to Choose a Dentist (in 4 easy steps)
From the American Dental Association

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Use their search tool to find a pediatric dentist near you

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation Licenses Dental Professionals
Check a Dentist or Dental Hygienists Licensure

Find a Health Care Facility

America's Best Hospitals
U.S. News and World Report ranks the top medical centers

Hospital Compare: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Find out how well hospitals across the U.S. compare in the care of adult patients with certain medical conditions. It includes a hospital checklist for consumers.

Locate a Hospice
From the Hospice Foundation of America

Illinois Hospital Association
The IHA's consumer information section includes links to: find a hospital (alphabetically or by city), advance directives, the Illinois Poison Center, Illinois KidCare, and organ donation updates and links

Illinois Hospital Report Card
Access information about the volume, cost and quality of health care provided in Illinois medical facilities

MEDLINEplus National Library of Medicine Directories
Arranges directory links into categories including physicians, specialists, hospitals, services, and facilities

Find Complimentary, Alternative, or Integrative Providers

Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?
This fact sheet explains the difference between the terms and the role that the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) plays in investigating (researching) the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.

MedlinePlus Health Topic: Complementary and Integrative Medicine

American Association of Integrative Medicine: Find a Provider
Search by specialty and State

American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine: Find a Physician
Search by State, zipcode, and/or specialty

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Search via the "Find a Practitioner" and "Registry" options

Stress, Humor & the Workplace

laughter.jpgCountless health research studies and documented medical cases show the negative effects of stress on health and wellbeing. Stressful situations in our workplaces are unavoidable. If we cannot control or stop the causes of stress, we can find positive, constructive methods to maintain our health and wellbeing. Humor relieves stress and helps us be positive, productive and effective.

Join this workshop to learn how humor can reduce stress and create a more positive work environment!

Negative Health Effects of Stress

Stress is caused by any event or occurrence (ongoing or isolated) that threatens an individual's coping strategies or resources.

Common physical manifestations of stress: zebra_stress.jpg

  • disrupted sleep
  • indigestion, stomach ache
  • chest pains, high blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • back or neck pain, headaches

Common psychological manifestations of stress:

  • anxiety
  • frustration
  • thumb_work_stress.jpg

  • irritability
  • depression
  • burnout

Positive Benefits of Laughter and Humor

A good "sense" of humor and laughter can trigger both short and long-term health benefits, increasing overall wellbeing. thumb_ban_stress.jpg

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day,
if I did not laugh, I should die.” ~ Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Immediate Benefits of Humor and Laughter:

  • Increases respiration, heart rate, muscular activity
  • giggle_hoot.jpg

  • Triggers increased oxygenation & circulation
  • Releases endorphins in the brain
  • Eases tension, makes one feel more "relaxed"

Long-Term Benefits of Humor and Laughter

  • Boosts immune system--positive thoughts release neuropeptides (fight stress)
  • Relieves pain--reduces tension, prevents muscle spasms, releases body's natural pain killers
  • Improves mood--hard to "dwell in darkness" when you're smiling and laughing!
  • Strengthens your relationships with others--people are attracted to happy, fun, positive people

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone." ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Remember to "Lighten Up"


  • Mixing humor into the workplace is a social skill.
  • Consider timing, audience, and intent. Be prepared to follow-up whether you "fly" or "fail"
  • Never use humor to gain power, bully, or tear-down
  • People appreciate positive, "bonding" humor over aggressive humor
  • Humor should bring people together or smooth the way during disagreement
  • Constructive criticism is delivered better with a smile than a frown
  • Don't take yourself too seriously....humor can keep you afloat!
  • Collaboration and cooperation are strengthened by shared humor and laughter

Recommended Reading

The best medicine?. (2015). Mayo Clinic Health Letter, 33(7), 7. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Cann, A., & Kuiper, N. A. (2014). Research on the role of humor in well-being and health. Europe's Journal Of Psychology, 10(3), 412-428. doi:10.5964/ejop.v10i3.818

Frey, R. J., & Davidson, T. (2015). Stress. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), Gale encyclopedia of medicine (5th ed., Vol. 7, pp. 4822-4825). Retrieved from GVRL Database.

Hartwell-Walker, M. (2016). Laughter Is Serious Business!. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 6, 2018, from

Romero, E.J., & Cruthirds, K.W. (2006). The use of humor in the workplace. The Academy of Management Perspectives 20(2), 58-69. retrieved from

Shellenbarger, S. (2013, August 14). Comedic gold or clunker? Secrets of effective office humor. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from Proquest database.

Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke. (2013, July 13). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 13, 2015, from

Thompson, K. (2013). Funny Business at Work. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 93(3), 25. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Empowered Patient Workshop

empoweredpatient.pngHave you ever left a healthcare appointment feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, confused or scared? Attend this workshop and receive practical tips and suggestions on how you can improve interactions with your health care providers.

Join the discussion, empower yourself as a healthcare consumer and learn how Library resources and staff can improve your personal wellbeing!

Libraries Empower Patients

The COD web site is easy to find!

  • Type “College of DuPage Library” into your favorite search engine
  • The Library is linked from all COD Blackboard courses

Why visit the C.O.D. Library?

Health information found through libraries is valuable and influences health care decisions
  • Visiting a local health science librarian can:
    • Help individuals better understand health and medical information
    • Reduce anxiety
    • Enable individuals to become proactive partners in their health care
  • Consumer health librarians help empower patients to:
    • Learn more about medications & supplements
    • Research & locate doctors & health facilities
    • Understand diseases & conditions
    • Explore treatment options
    • Discover the latest health & wellness trends
  • Librarians help individuals locate:
    • Health books
    • Health & wellness magazines and journals
    • DVDs and VHS health videos
    • Reference materials (encyclopedia & dictionary entries, names, addresses, phone numbers, ratings, etc)
    • Online health articles & Web sites
  • COD Library Resources

    Search for books, videos and journals within our Library catalog:
    • Reference materials are well-indexed, organized, concise, and highly credible.
    • They provide overviews (disease/condition/procedure descriptions, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis), definitions, specific information or addresses.
    • Types of reference books include: directories, dictionaries and encyclopedias, basic health books (describing diseases and conditions), and drug resources.
    • **HINT** Try the online medical encyclopedia articles found in Gale eBooks
    • General collection materials contain:
      • A wide variety of resources (biographies, exercise, self-help, nutrition/cookbooks, source books, and textbooks)
      • Many different formats (books, audio books, e-books, videos, software)
      • Both fiction and nonfiction materials
      • Materials designed for all age groups and education levels (the very young, kids, teens, adults, seniors, students, professionals, and lay people)
      • You can check general collection items out and take them home!
    Electronic Databases (accessible from your home using your MyAccess credentials)

    Library homepage --> Databases --> Health & Medicine Databases link

    • Get electronic access to reliable, trusted medical reference materials
    • Databases include full-text articles from health and medical journals and magazines, full-text entries from numerous Gale reference books, health-related pamphlets, and videos
    Internet Resources

    Health & Wellness Websites
    Recommended by COD Library's Nursing & Health Sciences Librarian, Debra J. Kakuk Smith

    quality info RX.jpg

  • After visiting a consumer health librarian, empowered patients:
    • Ask additional questions
    • Share information with health care providers
    • Make decisions about treatment
    • Implement lifestyle changes
    • Improve compliance with instructions
    • Make appointments to see health professionals
    • Seek second opinions
  • Remember that Librarians provide information.

    We do not diagnose, recommend or suggest treatments!

    Health information should be shared and discussed with your health care provider, who can interpret it for you and apply it to your individual case.

    Pre-Visit Communication Tips

    Some helpful tips that you can do BEFORE a visit to your healthcare providers:

    • Keep a "journal" or list of symptoms that you want to mention to your healthcare provider (when the pain started in your hip or a pattern of when headaches start/stop)
    • Routinely ask for copies of visit summaries and test results
    • Keep a binder of all medical information including medications, lab test results, visit summaries/diagnoses/treatments. Remember: Not all heathcare providers share electronic medical records or systematically exchange information
    • Prior to a healthcare visit, create a list of questions that you want answered before the end of your visit. Make a copy of it to share with your healthcare provider so that you are both "on the same page" when discussing your concerns!
    • You should provide an updated MASTER list (including all medications--prescribed and over-the-counter-- vitamins, and supplements) to all of your healthcare providers and to every pharmacy that you utilize (local and mail-order). Clear communication and sharing will help prevent drug interactions or overdoses.When creating a medication/supplement list, it is important to not only include the medication name, dosage and how/when you take it, but to also include WHY you take the medicine (for what condition/disease).
      • My Medicine List (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists--ASHP) PDF available for download in English and Spanish
      • Universal Medication Form (ISMP--Institute for Safe Medication Practices) PDF attached at the bottom of this Web page for download

    Office Visit Communication Tips

    • Bring:
      • List of questions
      • Current medication list
      • Updates from other healthcare professionals (your binder of medical documentation)
    • Consider bringing a small audio recorder to record your session for later referral/clarification
    • Have a family member, friend, or other trusted individual accompany you to support you and be an "extra set of ears"
    • Take notes, confirm spelling of conditions, diseases, treatments, and medications
    • Don't be afraid to call the office back with additional questions and/or concerns
    • When scheduling a visit (or a follow-up visit), request an "extended visit" to allow more time for discussion of your issues
    • Remember that medicine-related questions can be directed to both healthcare providers AND pharmacists

    Recommended Resources

    AHRQ: Questions Are the Answer
    From the US Department of Health & Human Services, this section of the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality encourages patients to ask questions and become actively involved in their health care by providing consumers informative video clips, ways to prevent medical errors, and interactive question generators for a variety of medical visit scenarios

    Horowitz, D. (2010, August). Consumer Connection: Speak up for good care: Getting the healthcare you deserve. The Costco Connection, p. 13.
    From the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, this site provides access to health topics (diseases and conditions), a medical encyclopedia, drug & supplement information, dictionary, links to self-help groups, clinical trials, directories and information in easy-to-read formats & multiple languages

    Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People (free PDF)
    From the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health), this resource is FABULOUS for people of ALL ages, especially older people. The book is available for download in PDF format or individual chapters are available for online reading--a handy table of contents is available on the main page. Bonus content includes worksheets to help prepare for and properly communicate during Dr visits.

"Smart Medicine" Workshop

smart medicine.pngWho can best answer your medication-related questions? Your doctor? A pharmacist? The Internet?
What are the best times/conditions to take specific medications?
How are pills, capsules and tablets identified without the benefit of original packaging or bottles?
What information should be included in an accurate medication/supplement list in case of emergency or in preparation for a health appointment?

Attend this workshop and learn how to be “smart” about all things medication-related!

Who can best answer your medication-related questions?

  • Your doctor (nurse, healthcare provider)
  • A pharmacist
  • The Internet

Credible information can be received from all three places, but remember that everyone is unique and only healthcare specialists (pharmacists, doctors, nurses) are trained to apply information to specific people and their unique medical histories

Medication Errors: Cut Your Risk With These Tips (Mayo Clinic)

What are the best times/conditions to take specific medications?

Remember, medication is all about chemistry! READ the directions before taking any medication. Common directions include:

  • take on an empty stomach (2 hours before or after eating)
  • take with a meal (or "when stomach is full")
  • take with a full glass of water (8 oz)
  • avoid grapefruit juice or citrus when taking this product
  • take with milk (or take without milk or dairy)
  • avoid certain activities while taking medicine (don't operate heavy machinery)
  • take at a specific time (bedtime, morning or afternoon)
    • timing when you take medications is called chronotherapy

For more information:
Using Medications Safely (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists--ASHP)
Timing When to Take Your Daily Medications (AARP)
Medicines: Common Questions Answered(NIH)

Reading medication labels

Prescription Medicine Label image and short video (Wisconsin Literacy, Inc.)
How to Read an Over-the-Counter Medication Label (ASHP)
Over the Counter (OTC) Drug Labels: Tips for Preventing Unintentional Poisonings(NCPC)

How to identify pills, capsules and tablets

drug_image_Unit6.jpgDrugs (pills, capsules and tablets) can be identified by imprint codes (the letters and numbers on a drug), shape, and color

Pill Identification Tool (RxList)

Pill Identifier (

Pillbox (National Library of Medicine)

Sample medication/supplement Lists

When creating a medication/supplement list, it is important to not only include the medication name, dosage and how/when you take it, but to also include WHY you take the medicine (for what condition/disease). You should provide an updated MASTER list (including all medications and supplements) to all of your healthcare providers and to every pharmacy that you utilize. Clear communication and sharing will help prevent drug interactions or overdoses.

My Medicine List (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists--ASHP) PDF available for download in English and Spanish

Universal Medication Form (ISMP--Institute for Safe Medication Practices) PDF attached for download

For more tips on medication safety including running drug interactions, attend the Drug Interactions Workshop

Drug Interaction Workshop

drug_interactions.jpgDo I take this medication with food or without?
Can I drink (alcohol, citrus juice, milk) with these meds? Does this medicine react with other supplements or medications that I’m already taking?

Learn to run drug interactions quickly and accurately. Find the answers to these and other medication-related questions by attending this workshop!

Medication Quick Facts

  • Nearly 1/3 of US adults take 5 or MORE medications
  • ADE = adverse drug event
  • Every year, ADEs account for:
      100,000 hospitalizations
      700, 000 ER visits
  • ADEs affect nearly 5% of all hospitalized patients and even higher numbers of ambulatory patients
  • The above data is from the AHRQ Patient Safety Primer: Medication Errors

    Drug & Pharmacy Websites


    small yellow star.jpg"Best Bet" resources are indicated with this yellow star

    CenterWatch Clinical Trials Listing Service
    Includes information on new drug therapies in research and those recently approved by the FDA

    small yellow star.jpgConsumer drug information from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
    The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) maintains a collection of educational materials on topics related to buying and using medicine safely. They include brochures, articles, pamphlets, posters, public services announcements, and more.

    Maintained by the National Library of Medicine, this site provides high quality drug information including FDA approved labels (package inserts). It is designed to supply health information providers and the public with a standard, comprehensive, up-to-date, look-up and download resource of medication content and labeling as found in medication package inserts
    A drug information database for consumers and medical professionals, providing information about prescription and over-the-counter medications, treatment notes for specific diseases and conditions, and topical articles and news related to pharmaceuticals

    Herb Research Foundation (HRF)
    A nonprofit research and educational organization focusing on herbs and medicinal plants

    Johns Hopkins Antibiotic Guide
    The Antibiotic Guide is a "decision support tool" intended to provide clinicians with concise, digested, timely information about the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. The information is arranged so that it is clinically useful at the point of care

    small yellow star.jpgMEDLINEplus National Library of Medicine
    Information on thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications provided through two drug resources -- MedMaster, a product of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), and the USP DI Advice for the Patient, a product of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP)

    Medscape Multi-Drug Interaction Checker
    Use the search field to look up prescription or OTC drugs, and herbal supplements then add all of your medications to view interactions

    RxList - The Internet Drug Index
    Contains a database of approximately 5,000 product names that is updated regularly including professional monographs derived from FDA approved labeling and patient-oriented monographs. Has a pill identifier and an interaction checker section

    small yellow
    Easy-to-read information on more than 800 drugs sponsored by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Provides tips on taking medicines safely and has a downloadable "My Medication List" for keeping track of all the necessary information on medications, herbs & supplements that you take

    ✔ Drug Interactions in Micromedex

    Micromedex Health Care Series 
    MICROMEDEX Healthcare Series provides full-text information supporting clinical care decisions including: drug monographs and evaluations, drug dosages and drug interactions, drug product identification, reproductive risks, toxicity management, alternative medicine/herbal preparations information, acute/emergency care guidelines, drug, disease and condition information for patients, laboratory test information, dosage calculators, nomograms, and references

    Many drug-related resources are located within the point-of-care clinical database, Micromedex. **Accessing Micromedex from on campus is automatic. Access from off campus requires last name and library barcode**

    interactions tab.jpg
    To run a drug interaction in Micromedex, click on the Drug Interactions tab located at the top of the main page

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    • Enter drugs one at a time.
    • The database will suggest medications under the search box.
    • Make certain to select (or type) the correct drug name
    • If you are not certain of the spelling, check your medication bottle or contact your healthcare provider
    • Many drugs have similar spellings
    • Use the arrow buttons to add or delete drugs from your list
    • You can include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, & supplements in your search
    • Click on the Add Allergies button and enter allergies (shellfish or penicillin for example)
    • Select the submit button when you have added all medications and any allergies

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    • Use the tabs acros the top to select type of interaction such as drug-drug or ethanol (alcohol)
    • For all interaction types, scroll down the results list
    • Severity rated as: contraindicated (should not be used), major, moderate, minor, unknown
    • Documentation (in the medical literature): excellent, good, fair, unknown
    • click on linked titles for more information and references

    DISCLAIMER: Remember to discuss all findings with your pharmacist and healthcare providers. Do NOT "practice without a license"--refer all questions and concerns to medical professionals! They can review results and apply them to your unique medical case.

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