Where to start: How do you begin identifying pills not in bottles?

Many times clinicians walk into patient’s homes and are handed loose pills that are not in labeled bottles from the pharmacy, pills are mixed together in one bottle, or pills are found loose during medication reconciliation and there is no bottle to be found with similar pills.  To complicate matters, pharmacies change companies for pricing related to generics.  Have you or a family member picked up a refill and the pills are completely different than the last order?

So where do you or your staff begin to figure out what the pill is or if the refill is the correct medication?   Gone are the days to pull out the PDR in the office and go through the glossy photos of pills, but we have the advantage of the internet to search for the pills.

Here are several intervention strategies.  You may know more and we would love for you to “Leave a Comment” by clicking below this blog and providing other strategies or resources.

  • Communicate with the pharmacist
    • Developing a relationship allows you to not only get answers about medication, but to also consult related to patient adherence issues and discuss medication simplification measures (see Medication Management BPIP for more information)
    • Find internet resources for identifying pills
      • Enter in any imprint on pill or medication & select color (shape is optional)
        • Tip:  if numbers are broken up on pill enter a space.  Can’t find all medications, but most are identifiable
  • Free Online Examples:
  • Many sites offer Mobile Apps too (check details on any fees)

Use your fingertips to assist with the detective work to identify those loose pills!

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