Keeping Safe with Your Medications

Keeping Safe with Your Medications

Keeping track of medications has become a fact of life for many Americans. We know we have to take it as prescribed, not too much, not too little. Here is a very sobering statistic from the Journal of Patient Safety. 50 Million Prescription Errors are made by pharmacies nationwide yearly. The main cause of the problem is inattention by pharmacy employees, lack of knowledge about the products and not looking at the prescription hardcopy during verification process.
Patients and their families should always read the label before taking prescription medications. Also ask the pharmacist to explain any side effects. They are happy to do so and often know much more about the medication than the prescribing doctor. Patients must be proactive these days in light of these alarming statistics. Simple errors like prescribing a drug containing acetaminophen to a person with liver problems can be fatal.
Some of these errors you may have no control over, but in your day to day life you can have a great deal to do in keeping yourself safe. The better prepared you are and the more knowledgeable you are can make you a better patient to yourself and your health care provider. You are you own best advocate and you can start taking control today.
Because of all the possible combinations of drugs you may take, it's essential to take precautions. Here are some suggestions from the FDA:
If you have several doctors, make sure they all know what the others are prescribing.
If you take a number of drugs, take a list of them all with you on a doctor's visit so the doctor can see exactly what medications you're on.
If you feel the need for over-the-counter medication to treat a cold or other problem, always check with your doctor and pharmacist first.
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement also recommends the following:
* Find out everything you can about the medication you are taking. Ask the doctor or nurse questions and take notes when being prescribed a medication.
* Make sure that your medications do not interact with one another. Ask your pharmacist to review your entire medication list. Be sure to include over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.
* Try to use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions and refills and read all written information thoroughly.
* Make sure that your primary-care physician has a complete, up-to-date list of your medications.
It is a good idea to keep an updated medication list with you and have another list at home in a visible location, such as a refrigerator door, and with you in your wallet, for use in the event of an emergency. The list should include:
* Names of all medications (including over-the-counter and herbal remedies).
* Exact dosage, times, methods (pill, patch or liquid) and reason for the medication.
* Your vaccination history.
Today's health-care environment presents us with the opportunity to obtain and share data more effectively than ever before. You can be a part of this safety measure and have a vital role in preventing errors by making certain that your medication information is current, accurate and well-communicated.
Reference: Institute for Healthcare Improvement
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