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Poor adherence to a prescribed medication regimen places patients at risk for adverse health outcomes. Medication adherence is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as, "The patient's conformance with the provider's recommendation with respect to timing, dosage, and frequency of medication-taking during the prescribed length of time." However, between 20% and 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, and about 50% of prescribed medication regimens are not continued as prescribed. It is often up to providers to improve adherence to medication regimens, in order to increase the chances of favorable patient outcomes.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently posted eight tips to help consumers take their prescription medications as prescribed. Nurses have an important role to play in helping to educate patients on the importance of medication adherence. They can print out the tips from the FDA Web page ( and review them with patients. They can also give a copy to the patient as a reminder. Here are those eight tips:


* Take your medication at the same time every day.


* Time when you take your medication to a daily routine (like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed).


* Keep a diary or calendar to record when you take each dose of medication.


* Use a pill container.


* Refill the pill container at the same time every week.


* Purchase timer caps for pill bottles and pill containers.


* Bring a few extra days' worth of medication with you when you travel.


* If flying, bring medication in your carry-on.