How to Fill a Pillbox

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Dr. Paul Hines

At Dose Health, we want to do everything we can to make it easy for you to take your medications. If you manage a lot of pills or you are caring for someone who does, it can be difficult to organize your schedule around a bunch of medication bottles. Reading the labels and opening them every day can be a hassle, and a pillbox or pill organizer can make a big difference.

When we searched online for “how to fill a pillbox?” we didn’t find many resources. So here is one method based on our conversations and personal experience. If you find anything more you would like to add, or you do things a differently, please share!

  1. Grab all your medications and line them up.  You may also want to bring a printout of your medication list from your doctor or your own written list of medications.
  2. Find out how many times a day each medication should be taken.  In this example, you take medications twice a day.
    • Multivitamin, 1 pill taken once a day
    • Aspirin, 1 pill taken once a day
    • Fish Oil, 2 capsules taken twice a day
    • Lipitor, 1 pill taken once a day
    • Hydrochlorothiazide, 1 pill taken twice a day
    • Prilosec, 1 pill in the morning
    If some medications are taken as needed (PRN), like many pain medications, you can leave those pills out.
  3. Get the pillbox(es) you’ll need for at least one week! 
    • Since you take medications twice a day, you should get two seven-day pillboxes or one 14-space pillbox. Make sure they have AM/PM labels.
    • If you take medications once per day you can use one seven-day pillbox
    • If you take medica 3 times a day, get three seven-day pillboxes or one 21 space pillbox and label them AM, NOON, PM (or anything that makes sense to remember each time)
    • Same for 4, 5, 6 times a day.
  4. Fill your pillbox(s)! 
    • Take a medication and fill the pillbox based on how often the medications is taken per day.
    • For example:
      • Prilosec is taken once a day in the morning, so place one dose in each of the 7 AM spaces
      • Lipitor is taken once a day at anytime, so it can be placed in each of the AM spaces OR each of the PM compartments
      • 2 Fish Oil capsules are taken twice a day so place 2 Fish Oil capsules in each of the AM and each of the PM spaces (all 14 spaces)
    • You’re done!

What if I’m filling a Dose Dispense? 

  1. It’s very similar!  All that changes is step 4.
    • Take the lid off the Dose Dispense and press “Refill Early”. If the screen says “Waiting to be refilled” the refill guide is already ready to follow.
    • Following the on-screen guide with the white highlighted spaces, place medications that you would normally put in your pillbox’s AM spaces into the spaces labelled with a sun and the letters A, C, E, G, I, K, M.
    • Place medications that you would normally put in your pillbox’s PM spaces into the spaces labelled with a moon and letters B, D, F, H, J, L, N
  2. That’s it! 

Optional, Organize your pills for next time

  1. Now group your medications to make filling easy! 
    • Take the bottles for all the medications that are ONLY for the morning and put them in the AM group.
      • Multivitamin, Aspirin, Lipitor, Prilosec
    • Take the bottles for all the medications that are ONLY for the evening and put them in PM group.
      • None in this example!
    • Take the bottles for all the medications that are for BOTH the morning and evening and put them in a third AM/PM group.
      • Fish Oil, Hydrochlorothiazide
    • From this example you have two groups,
      • AM group: Multivitamin, Aspirin, Lipitor, Prilosec
      • AM/PM group: Fish Oil, Hydrochlorothiazide
  2. Put your AM and AM/PM medications into separate bags or boxes 
  3. Now, you or someone else can use these two groups to quickly refill your pillbox(es) next time without looking at each medication label! 

*Medications in this guide are used an example and shouldn’t be thought of as medical advice. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist!

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