I’m sure we have all been asked “what medications do you take?” so many times, that we get tired of having to answer. Why do we get asked that question and why does it really matter? Well, when you seek medical care, this information is of upmost importance because, most medications have side effects and/or they can conflict with other medications if given at the same time. The process of getting an accurate list of medication that a person takes, prescribed as well as over the counter (herbs and vitamins included), is known as Medication Reconciliation. Medication Reconciliation is probably the most difficult process that Medical Personnel have to do. Having an incomplete and/or inaccurate listing of medications can pose a patient at high risk for a Medication error. It is imperative that the patient’s medication list is accurate and complete with names, dosages as well how often the medication is taken (once a day, twice a day, as needed etc.). It is also extremely important to know when the last time the medication was taken. If you have any medication allergies, be sure that you alert the Healthcare personnel to that as well. If you should need to seek medical care, it is requested that you bring the medications with you for the Healthcare personnel to review and document in your record. That is the most accurate method of ascertaining just what a patient is currently taking. Sometimes, even the list of the medication from a family physician is not complete because, the patient may have been seen by a Specialist and placed on medications that the family physician is unaware of. Calling the Pharmacy that the patient uses may not be adequate as the patient may have had to fill a prescription at a different pharmacy for some reason and therefore, this medication would not be on the list. If you are unable to bring the medications, keeping a current list on you at all times can be of great benefit to you as well as the Healthcare personnel who are taking care of you. There are even applications available for a smartphone that will assist in keeping a list of medications, as well as reminders to take them and get them refilled. You can also get a list from your Pharmacy to keep with you but, once again, you need to be sure that if multiple pharmacies are utilized, you will need a list from each one. Please help your Healthcare staff keep you safe from harm related to medication errors and be proactive by bringing your medications with you or keeping a current, accurate list on you at all times.
Article written and submitted by Jody Ayers RN, Quality Improvement/Risk Management/Case Management Director