There are few things more troubling in health care than keeping track of medications. According to the CDC, Adverse Drug Events result in 700,000 emergency room visits and 120,000 hospitalizations EVERY YEAR! Are you at risk?
- Do you see more than one doctor?
- Do you use more than one pharmacy (like filling some prescriptions locally and receiving some via mail in)?
- Do you sometimes forget to take doses of your medications?
- Are you taking supplements or over the counter drugs that you have forgotten to tell your doctor about?
- How many bottles of pills are in your medicine cabinet that you have saved “just in case” you need it later?
- Can you write down a list of all your current medications, including names, doses, how often you are supposed to take them and the reason for the medication?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then you are at higher risk!
Don’t Become a Statistic: Take Action Now
For the foreseeable future, the individual patient must be responsible for keeping track of her/his medication list. Your health is too important. Too many people say, “My doctor knows my medications.” Clearly, this is often not the case—not due to negligence or lack of trying—but due to the complexity of the healthcare system.
- Schedule a Medication Reconciliation visit with your Primary Care Doctor–
- Bring all your medications, including medicated creams/lotions, eye drops, vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies to this visit
- As partners in your medical care, do not leave this visit until you and your Doctor both agree on your medicine list.
- Ask if there are medications you can stop or reduce
- Develop a plan to keep an ongoing record to ANY and ALL CHANGES to your medication list.
- Clearly mark changes with dates and notations—
- For example: “Stopped aspirin on April 11 as instructed by Dr. Smith”
- Bring the list with you to EVERY clinical appointment—doctors, dentists, eye doctors, emergency rooms, urgent care centers and pharmacies
- Make every future doctor visit a Medication Reconciliation visit—Actively inform your care provider about any changes made to your list. Do not assume they know about any changes!
Ideas for keeping track—
- Hand-Written List—While old-fashioned, this is often the easiest approach. There are ways to utilize today’s technology to upgrade this tried-and-true approach—
- After any change to your list, take a picture of it with your smartphone camera. That way, it is likely to be with you wherever you go.
- Utilize an App on your Computer or Smartphone—There are multiple free apps to choose from in both Apple iOS and Android versions.
It’s important for you to take the leading role and be an active member of your healthcare team. After all, it is your body and your health, you need to own it!