Keeping a medicines list

A medicines list can be a useful way to keep all the information about your current medicines together. In New Zealand a medicines list is also called a yellow card.

On this page you will find information about:

What is a medicines list?

A medicines list is used to record all the medicines you use. This list includes:

  • all medicines that your doctor has prescribed including creams, ointments, eye medication, inhalers or puffers, sprays and patches.
  • medicines you bought at a supermarket, pharmacy, health shop, gym or over the internet
  • vitamins and mineral supplements, herbal and natural remedies, alternative, complementary and rongoā therapies
  • medicines you take only when needed such as pain relief, some asthma inhalers or angina medicines.

Your medicine list will have also have other details such as:

  • what each medicine is for
  • how much of each you use
  • when and how to use each medicine
  • any drug allergies, side effects, or sensitivities you have.

Why is it important to keep a medicines list?

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists need to know what medicines you are on to help them make decisions about your care and to prevent errors occurring. A medicines list is the best way to keep all the information about your medicines together. It will:

  • remind you or your carer how and when to take your medicine
  • help you to know more about your medicines and what are they for
  • help your doctor and pharmacist check and review your medicines
  • provide important information about your medicines in an emergency.
Take your medicines list with you to each doctor's appointment or trip to the pharmacy or dentist

While your GP or pharmacist may have a list of your medications in their files, it may not be the most accurate list of the medicines you are taking because:

  • you might be seeing more than one doctor
  • you might be using medicines bought from the supermarket, health shop or over-the-counter from your pharmacy
  • you may have had changes to your medicines during a recent hospital visit.   

How do I start a medicines list?

In New Zealand, your pharmacist can help you create a medicines list called a 'yellow card'. The yellow card is used throughout New Zealand to help people keep a record of their medications.

  • The yellow card has information such as medicine name, strength, form, dosing, what is it for and other special instructions about how to take it or possible side effects to watch out for.
  • If you don't have a yellow card, talk to your pharmacist about creating one.
  • Before you leave hospital, the pharmacist can help you create or update your yellow card.

If you don't have access to a yellow card, you can use 'My medicines list'.



Keeping your medicines list updated

Keep your medicines list or yellow card updated to ensure it is a correct reflection of the medicines you are taking. Update your list when:

  • you start a new medicine
  • there are changes to the dose of your medicines
  • leaving hospital (because changes to medicines are quite common during a stay in hospital)
  • seeing many health professionals.

Learn more

Patient guide for safe use of medicines (English), (Chinese), (Korean) SafeRx, Waitematā DHB, 2013 
Medicines – when can problems occur? 
Questions to ask about your medicines 
Using medicines wisely

Credits: Sandra Ponen, pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 11 Apr 2019