In this video, we’ll show how to fill a pill box. Pill boxes are also called pill containers.
Some medicines, such as oral chemotherapy, are not safe to put in a pill box. Follow your care team’s instructions for using a pill box.
For written instructions, read How To Fill a Pill Box.
In this video, we’ll show how to fill a pillbox. Pillboxes are also called pill containers. They organize your medications for a certain length of time. Using one will help you avoid missing doses.
You may have some medications you take on a schedule, called standing medications, and others you only take when you need them, called PRN medications. Only put your standing medications in your pillbox. Store your PRN medications separately, such as in their own labeled plastic bag. This will help you keep your medications organized so they’re easier for you to take when you need them.
Now, let’s go through the steps for filling a pillbox.
Set up your supplies on a large, clean, flat surface. You’ll need your pillbox. Open each of the spaces. Pay attention to how many days’ worth of medication your pillbox holds and how many spaces there are per day. Some hold medication doses for just 1 day, while others hold doses for multiple days or weeks. We’re using one with 7 days and 4 spaces per day.
You’ll also need your standing medications and your home medication list. This has information about your medications and instructions for taking them. Make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version. If your home medication list doesn’t say exactly when to take a medication—for example, if it just says to take it once a week or once daily—choose the day or time you want to take it and write that next to the medication.
The instructions on your home medication list may be different from the ones on the medication bottles. This can happen if your healthcare provider changes your medication dose or schedule more often than you refill your medications. Always follow the instructions on your home medication list, not the instructions on the medication bottles. Your home medication list has the most up-to-date information.
Once you have all your supplies, wash and dry your hands. Line up your medication bottles in the order they’re listed on your home medication list. If you have more than one bottle of the same medication, set them next to one another.
Starting with the first medication on your list, check your dose on your home medication list, then check the medication strength on the bottle. Depending on the strength, you may need to use more than one pill to make the right dose, so you’ll need to figure out the number of pills you need.
Once you know how many pills are in a dose, check your home medication list to see when you need to take the medication. Then, put a dose of the medication in the matching space or spaces in your pillbox. Fill all the doses for each day in your pillbox or up until your next clinic visit, then put the cap back on the bottle and put the bottle back in the bag. Repeat these steps for each medication on your Home Medication List.
Sometimes, you might need to use different-strength pills. For example, to take a 2.5-milligram dose of a medication, you may need to use two 1-milligram pills and one 0.5-milligram pill.
If you need to take a medication every 12 hours, put 1 dose in the morning space and 1 dose in the evening space for the day.
If you have liquid medications, keep them in their original bottle. Store them next to your pillbox so you remember to take them.
If you have medications that come in a blister pack, only pop them out and put them in your pillbox if your healthcare provider says it’s safe.
As you’re filling your pillbox, keep track of how much of each medication you have left. Request refills 5 or more days before a medication will run out. It sometimes takes a day or two to be ready.
When you’re done filling your pillbox, close all the spaces. Put it in a plastic bag so the pills will spill into the bag if it accidentally opens. Put your home medication list in the bag too. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and humidity. Don’t store it in your bathroom. The steam from your shower could damage the pills. Then, wash your hands again.
Remember, the steps to filling your pillbox are to check your medication dose; check the medication strength; figure out the number of pills needed to make a dose; see when you need to take the medication; put a dose of the medication in the matching space or spaces in your pillbox; and then cap the bottle and put it away.
It can be very dangerous to miss or take extra doses of your medications. Always take your medications the right way, at the right time, and at the right doses.
If you have questions or concerns about your medications, call your healthcare provider. You can also find more information by visiting www.mskcc.org/pe and searching “pillbox.”