Grundy County Memorial Hospital | Live Well | Fall 2019

Medication safety tips that can help you stay out of the hospital The older we get, the more crowded our medicine cabinets tend to get. Taking multiple medicines can increase the risk for harm- ful drug interactions or other problems. Grundy County Memorial Hospital Pharmacist Ariel Loring, MPH, PharmD, says that you can be your own best health advocate by being aware of what medications you take and why you take them. Getting your medication list right may be critical to adminis- tering the correct treatment in case of an emergency, says Loring. “When a patient arrives at the hospital by ambulance, a check of their medical history and medications is going to occur instantly,” she says. “If an up-to-date list of medications is not in the medical chart, we may be relying on a family member’s memory—and there can easily be discrepancies that affect whether our patient is receiving appropriate and timely care.” Making sure that prescription information is correct is not only critical in the Emergency Department, but also when people receive diagnostic tests, are admitted to the hospital or are transferred to another facility. “The very first record of a person’s medications will travel with you throughout your care—so it’s very important we get it right! That’s why I encourage patients to be the very best advocate they can be for their care by keeping an up-to-date medication list with them or in a place where it can be quickly retrieved,” says Loring. Hospital Pharmacist Ariel Loring, MPH, PharmD, advises hospital patients on medication safety. Safety first 5 things to remember 1 Share. Make sure your primary care provider and any specialists you see know about everything you’re taking. This includes any over-the-counter drugs, vita- mins, minerals or herbal supplements. If you’re thinking of trying a new over-the- counter medication or a supplement, let your doctors know that too. Combining some medicines could cause side effects and medical conditions that turn into emergencies. 2 Understand. Read the label and any other information that comes with your medicines. Find out what each one is for. If anything about your medicine isn’t clear—for instance, how often and how much to take—tell your doctor or pharmacist. Failing to take medication as prescribed can cause a health condition to worsen—and put you in the hospital. 3 Report problems. If you have any problems with your medicine, tell your doctor right away. He or she may be able to suggest a different medicine or a different dose. But don’t stop taking a medicine without first getting your doctor’s OK. 4 Take your meds on time. Do you sometimes forget to take your medicines? Consider using a calendar, chart or pillbox to keep track. You could also ask your pharmacist to put your medicines in blister packs. Or if possible, take your medi- cines at the same time as another daily routine, like brushing your teeth. 5 Use one pharmacy. Having all of your prescription records in one place can help your pharmacist ensure that you don’t receive two drugs that can interact badly. Sources: National Council on Patient Information and Education; National Institute on Aging 3