By: Felicia Snyder, PharmD candidate 2018
“What medications do you take at home?”
This is one of many questions that is asked of us when visiting an emergency room, urgent care center, or even a new doctor’s office; yet many individuals may not be able to answer it. Being able to accurately answer this question, along with the follow-up questions regarding strengths and how often it is taken, can be vital for proper care and prevention of medical errors. A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine looked at 651 patients being admitted into the hospital and found that 35.9% experienced medication errors. Of these errors, 85% originated in medication histories that were inaccurate or missing.
So how can you better prepare to prevent yourself from becoming a part of these statistics?
One method that many healthcare professionals recommend is keeping a medication list in your wallet or on your phone. Keeping an up-to-date list of the names, doses, and uses for your medications can help providers in giving you safe and proper care. This list will allow them to continue your daily medications if you are admitted and will allow them to know which medications should be avoided due to interactions. Not only can it help in times of emergencies, but it is a useful tool to have if you find yourself at an appointment with your dentist, optometrist, or even with a new doctor. Your medication list can speak for you when you don’t remember everything, or in the severe cases where you cannot speak at all.
Now you may be asking, “Doesn’t my doctor know what I’m taking already?” This is a good question; the problem is that you may have to see more than one healthcare provider or pharmacy. One provider may not know the entire list, increasing the chance that something will be missed, such as a drug-drug interaction.
A good way of obtaining such a list is by asking your pharmacist if you are eligible for a medication review that is typically covered through your insurance. They can schedule a time to sit down and discuss all of your medications, disease states, and allergies with you to create a comprehensive list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications. This will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a medication list, but also to learn more about your medications and get answers to any questions you may have about them. After this review, your pharmacist will be able to provide you with an updated list to keep on your person. It is important to update this list whenever you stop, start, or change the dose of your medication. Some pharmacies may also offer phone apps that allow you to access your list on the go, such as the RxLocal app.
Medication mistakes can be costly and dangerous, playing an active role in your health care can help prevent these. Be sure to prepare yourself and speak to your pharmacist today about scheduling a comprehensive medication review.
Originally from Tower City, PA, Felicia Snyder is currently studying at Wilkes University where she will graduate in December. She plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine and does transitions of care research. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking and painting.
The Gatti Team
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.