In an ideal world, we would all be our own healthcare advocate. Unfortunately, with the constant evolution of healthcare models, aging parents and grandparents unable to adapt to these changes, there are many gaps where medication missteps may occur. Mail order pharmacies, telehealth and multiple specialists are just a few of the nuances which may contribute to medication errors and drug interactions. I have a few helpful hints that could potentially prevent errors, especially in the elderly population.
Make sure that you have a current list of all medications, prescription and over the counter medications, including doses and directions. I recommend including any medication allergies and what type of reaction results from exposure. There are a number of reactions that are merely adverse reactions and not allergic reactions. There are certain classes of medications, blood thinners and immunosuppressants for example, that change a medical approach if the patient is in an emergent situation. It is imperative that there be some form of alert on the patient stating what medication he/she is on. Medic alert bracelets are a great idea in this situation.
For patients living independently, I also recommend the medi-sets, which come in a number of different sizes and styles. Some have one pocket daily for seven days, while some have 3 times daily for seven days. Pick a day each week to refill a week’s worth of doses. This will ensure that the patient takes only the doses for that day and also allows for you to order refills in a timely manner.
There is so much work that needs to be done in order to fill in the gaps where medication variances may occur. My best advice is to be you or your loved one’s best advocate and take command of medication management. Never hesitate to question your healthcare professional- we are human and mistakes can happen
Written by Missy Savage, Pharmacist