Detecting Medication Side Effects

Supports coordinators have a valuable role in the health care team. As non-clinicians, supports coordinators are not expected to know all of the side effects of various medications. However, some knowledge about medications and their potential side effects is necessary to help individuals access needed services.

This information guide provides a strategy that will help supports coordinators answer questions and decide if a change in an individual’s behavior or physical condition may be the side effect of a medication.

Anyone who is taking medication, but especially:

  • People on multiple medications
  • People with changes in behavior
  • People with changes in physical conditions

Any medication can produce side effects, but pay special attention to:

  • Interactions with other drugs
  • Interactions with over-the-counter drugs
  • Interactions with food
  • Interactions with "natural" supplements

Side effects can occur at any time, but pay special attention when:

  • An individual is starting a new medication
  • An individual is changing the dose of a medication
  • An individual is suffering from an additional illness (e.g., cold)

  • Pharmacists
  • Drug references (e.g., books, online)
  • Prescribing practitioners
  • Health care quality units (HCQU)

Side effects caused by medications can:

  • Be annoying and affect everyday functioning
  • Be dangerous and affect health and safety

Assist individuals and caregivers in referring questions/concerns to the prescribing physician or the primary care practitioner