Q: Lately it seems I am reading and hearing more and more about medication errors. It appears that these errors happen in numerous ways both at home as well as in health care facilities such as assisted living and hospitals. Do you have any safety tips for unsuspecting consumers?
A: A person can never be too careful in understanding their medications.
Let’s start at the doctor’s office. First make sure all of your doctors know about everything you are currently taking. This includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and any dietary or herbal supplements.
Also make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to previous medications. If you do have allergies you might consider wearing a medic alert bracelet and carrying a card in your wallet with specific information.
If your doctor writes a new prescription for you make sure you can read his or her writing. If you can’t the pharmacist might not be able to read it either. Be sure you understand what the medication is for, how and when to take it.
Ask what side effects might occur and if they do occur what action you should take. Question if it is safe to take this new medication with those you are currently taking including vitamins, herbals and over-the-counter items. Also ask if certain food, beverages or activities should be avoided.
And last but certainly not least ask what you should do if you miss taking a scheduled dosage.
Your next stop will be at the pharmacy and it is strongly suggested that you use just one pharmacy. A pharmacist is a valuable member of your health care team and by using just one pharmacy your medication history can be reviewed each time a new prescription is added.
When you pick up your new prescription ask the pharmacist to check to make sure it is what the doctor prescribed. Also ask if there is any written information about possible side effects.
Before leaving the pharmacy read the label on the container. Is the information provided in terms you understand and does it agree with what your doctor told you? If there is anything you don’t understand do not hesitate to ask the pharmacist to explain.
If you are a resident in an assisted care facility that is managing your medications always ask the person dispensing your medications to check the container labels to make sure the medication is prescribed for you.
When in the hospital it is helpful to have someone present just to observe and to ask questions if you are too sick to know what is taking place. You should ask for a printed list of all your medications and the dosages and how often you must take them.
Every time you are handed a medication you or your observer should check it against the list. Make sure the drug is meant for you and not your roommate. Insist that the person giving you the medication calls you by name and checks your ID bracelet to ensure the medication is yours.
Be wary of any changes. For example if you have been receiving a small orange pill once a day and all of a sudden you are given a second dose later in the day or if an entirely different medication is introduced ask if the orders were changed and why and by whom. Make sure the drug is for you.
This all may sound like overkill but where your health is concerned you can never be too careful.
Wednesday: 1:30-3 p.m. — Seminar — “Long Term Care Insurance — Do You Need It and Do You Understand What You Have” at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Community Garage Sale at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. For information call the center at 381-2744
April 23: 1:30-3 p.m. — Seminar — “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. For information and reservations call the center at 583-6363.
April 29: Seminar — 5:30-7:30 p.m. — Path To Positive Aging Series — “Taking Charge of Your or Your Loved One’s Hospital Stay” at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For information and reservations call the center at 497-0189.
More …

Print Friendly, PDF & Email