Transfer of accurate medication information across patient care settings is crucial to preventing medication errors and promoting patient safety. Patient participation is a key factor in obtaining complete and accurate medication information as patients frequently self‐medicate or alter adherence to prescribed therapy. Encouraging and empowering patients to manage their medication information and engage them in shared decision making is an important step toward optimizing drug therapy and preventing medication errors.


A survey and structured interviews were conducted among a consecutive sample of patients attending the preoperative clinic for elective surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, September 2009–March 2010. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and qualitative data were analyzed to identify common themes for maintaining or not maintaining a medication list.


Of 192 eligible patients, 140 patients completed the survey (73% response rate). Patients averaged 61 years of age (range, 22–89 years), 51% were male, and were predominantly white (77%) and had completed some level of college education (78%). Most patients brought medication lists to their clinic visits (79%) after receiving telephone reminders and written instructions from clinic staff; however, few reported that a health care provider recommended they maintain a medication list and discuss it at every health care visit (36%). Among the 111 patients with a list, 87% reported improved communication with their doctor. Common reasons for maintaining a list included improved self‐management of their medications and convenience. Common themes among patients without a list included lack of importance or need (e.g., could remember their medications) and expectations that providers and hospitals would maintain accurate medication information within their health records.


Personal medication lists maintained by patients provide an opportunity to improve communication and facilitate shared decision making between patients and health care providers. Interventions that encourage and empower patients to maintain a medication list and make it accessible for review are needed.


K. Lee ‐ none; C. Hartridge‐Beam ‐ none; J. Nguyen ‐ none; A. Ahmadpour ‐none; A. Diaz ‐ none; A. Auerbach ‐ none