QUESTION: 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?
ANSWER: 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 or an older one is dropped.
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 do not 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 any entirely different medication is introduced ask if the orders were changed and why and by whom. Make sure the drug is for you.
This may sound like overkill but where your health is concerned you can never be too careful.
TODAY – November 18 – 1:30 pm – Seminar – “Scammers Enjoy the Holidays Too” at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.
WEDNESDAY – November 25 – Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association free diabetes class – 1:30 to 3:00 pm at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. No reservations needed.
SATURDAY – December 5 – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – Holiday Craft Bazaar at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks – there will be 30 vendors – come get an early start on your holiday shopping. Also from 9:00 to 10:00 there will be a pancake breakfast – cost $3.00 and from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm a Grahm Cracker House work shop – $3.00 per house. For more information call the center at (805) 381-2744.
MEDICARE ONE-STOP-SHOPS – assistance and counseling with making changes in your health care coverage for 2016 – walk-ins are welcome.
THURSDAY – November 19 – 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at Camarillo Health Care District – 3639 E. Las Posas Road in Camarillo
FRIDAY – November 20 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Area Agency on Aging offices – 646 County Square Drive in Ventura
MONDAY – November 23 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks
TUESDAY – November 24 – 10:00 am to Noon at Pleasant Valley Senior Center, 1605 Burnley Street in Camarillo