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BME Patient Experience Survey

Medication Reviews

What is a medicines review?

A medicines review (also called structured medicines review or SMR) is a meeting with your pharmacist to talk about your medicines. Your medicines should be reviewed regularly (usually once a year) to check that they are right for you.

Why are medicines reviews needed?

When you are first prescribed a medicine, your doctor, pharmacist and/or nurse checks that it is the best medicine for you. However, things can change, for example:

  • You might have developed a side effect from a medicine.
  • Your health might have changed, such as developing a new long-term condition.
  • You might have started taking other medicines.
  • The guidelines for treating your condition might have changed.
  • You may be taking a large number of medications (known as “polypharmacy”).
  • A medication you are on may be no longer essential for your health day to day.
  • As you get older you may have become frail, or your frailty might have increased.

All of these factors can affect whether a medicine remains the best choice for you.

Medicines review is also a good time for you to ask any questions about your medications.

What is “polypharmacy”?

You might have heard your doctor, pharmacist or nurse talk about “polypharmacy”. Polypharmacy just means “lots of pharmacy” or, in other words, taking a large number of medicines. Sometimes the polypharmacy can be beneficial e.g. when people need to manage their hypertension or diabetes with multiple medications, however sometimes taking more medications can cause harm or they are no longer necessary and these need to be reviewed.

Medicines reviews are particularly useful for people who take lots of medicines, so they are sometimes called “polypharmacy reviews”.

What happens at a medicines review?

You will be asked to make an appointment with your pharmacist for a medicines review. You might be offered either face to face, telephone or video consultation and your GP practice will provide you with further information. The review will usually take between 10 and 30 minutes.

The review will involve the pharmacist gathering information from you and from your medical record. This information will be used to check that you are taking the most appropriate medicines.

You will also be able to ask any questions or raise any concerns you have about your medicines.

It might be necessary for the pharmacist to recommend some changes to your medicines. The reasons for these changes will be explained to you and you will be asked for your agreement before any changes are made.

Before your medicines review appointment

It may help if you prepare for your appointment. Here are some tips:

  • It would be very useful if you could bring all of your medicines with you, including any you have bought in a pharmacy or shop or online. By medicines we mean anything you take including tablets, liquids, inhalers, creams, ointments, patches and drops. If you buy vitamins or herbal or homoeopathic remedies, please bring them too. Medicines often have two names (a generic name and a brand name) so having the medicines with you will prevent any confusion if the pharmacist calls the medicine by a different name to the name you normally use.
  • If you are having a telephone or video consultation, please make a list of all your medications (or have them easily accessible) including any you have bought in a pharmacy or shop or online.
  • Ask a friend or family member to assist you during the medicines review, if you like.
  • Ask your surgery for an interpreter or communication support if needed.
  • Write down your questions.

Questions to ask during your appointment

It is okay to ask questions about your health and what might be wrong. Don’t be

afraid to tell your pharmacist if you don’t understand what they’ve said.

  • Don’t feel embarrassed about asking to explain things again.
  • You may ask your reviewer to write down and explain any words you don’t know.
  • You may ask a family member or a friend to take notes for you.

What questions will I be asked at my medicines review?

At the medicines review, you will be asked about how you are getting on with your medicines. Some of the questions you might be asked at your medicines review include:

  • Are you taking all of your medicines?
  • Are there any you miss out or forget to take?
  • Can you take/use the medicine properly?
  • Do you feel you are having any side effects from your medicines?
  • Do you have any concerns about your medicines?
  • Do you take any other medicines, such as those bought in a pharmacy, supermarket or online?

What changes to my medicines might be recommended?

Some common changes your pharmacist might recommend to your medicines are:

  • A form of the medicine may be changed to one that is easier to take (e.g. once a day rather than three times a day).
  • A medicine may be started or changed to a newer version.
  • A medicine may be stopped.

Where can I get more information?

You can ask your GP surgery and/or your community pharmacy for more information on your medicines at any time.

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