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Talk About Prescriptions Month
        
Preventing Medication Errors - What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do
        


Whether you have Migraine disease, a different type of head pain disorder, or another illness or condition entirely, medications may very well play an important part in your treatment plan and maintaining your quality of life. Unfortunately, medication errors are made. There is, however, a great deal we can do to help avoid them.

This year's theme

Each year, the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) sponsors "Talk About Prescriptions Month," each year with a different theme. In this, the 21st annual observance, the theme is "Preventing Medication Errors - What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do." The purpose with this year's observance has three main points:

  • To help call attention to the magnitude of personal health problems due to avoidable medication errors;
  • To encourage every affected person or group -- including consumers, healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, voluntary health agencies, and local, state and national government agencies to get involved in combating medication errors;
  • To suggest ways that consumers, their healthcare providers, and public, private, and voluntary organizations can get involved to drive down medication errors, and by doing so, help promote safe and appropriate medicine use.
     

The statistics

  • Each week, four out of five U.S. adults uses prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications or dietary supplements.
  • Nearly one-third of adults will take five or more different medications.
  • Americans fill nearly 4 billion prescriptions annually.
  • Hospitalized patients can expect to be subjected to more than one medication error each day. One study found that each preventable adverse drug event (ADE) that took place in a hospital added about $8,750 (in 2006 dollars) to the cost of the hospital stay. (Not to mention the cost in pain and suffering!)
  • Conservatively, the Institute of Medicine, in a recent report concludes that there are at least 1.5 million preventable ADEs in the U.S. each year - and it may even be much higher.
      

What you can do to avoid medication errors

At home:

  • KEEP an updated list of the prescription and nonprescription medicines & other products like vitamins and minerals, you are taking. Keeping this list on your computer makes it easy to update and print a copies as needed.
  • TAKE your medicine list with you every time you visit a healthcare provider and have him or her review it.
     

At the Doctor's Office:

  • HAVE the doctor, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner write down the name of the medicine (brand & generic, if available), what it is for, its dosage, and how often to take it, or provide other written material with this information.
  • HAVE the prescriber explain how to use the medicine properly.
  • ASK about side effects and what to do if you experience a side effect.
     

At the Pharmacy:

  • KNOW that you can review your list of medications with the pharmacist for additional safety.
  • KNOW that you have the right to counseling by the pharmacist if you have any questions. For example, you can ask the pharmacist to explain how to properly take the medicine, the side effects of the medicine, and what to do if you think you are starting to develop a side effect.
     

At the Hospital (Inpatient Care):

  • ASK the doctor or nurse what medicines you are being given.
  • DO NOT take a medicine without being told the purpose for doing so.
  • EXERCISE your right to have someone with you whenever you are being given medicine and are not able to carefully follow the medication-use process yourself.
  • BEFORE SURGERY, ASK whether there are medications, especially prescription antibiotics, that you should take or any that you should stop taking.
  • BEFORE YOU GO HOME, ASK for a list of the medications that you should be taking at home, have a healthcare provider review the medicines with you, and be sure you understand how to take these medicines.
     

Summary

Medications are a valuable element of our treatment. Used properly and wisely, they're beneficial to us. Many medication errors can be prevented when we ask questions and work with our doctors. Be proactive, ask questions, and be safe! Download this form and use one at every doctor's appointment to help you know what questions to ask about your medications a remember to ask them.
 

About the NCPIE

Organized in 1982, The National Council on Patient Information (NCPIE) is a non-profit coalition of over 100 organizations committed to stimulating and improving communication between consumers and health care professionals about the safe and appropriate use of medicines. In addition to sponsoring "Talk About Prescriptions" Month (http://www.talkaboutrx.org), NCPIE hosts the "Be MedWise" campaign promoting wise use of over-the-counter medicines (http://www.bemedwise.org).

 

_____________
Resources:

  • Press Release: "Preventing Medication Errors: What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do - Annual NCPIE observance works to improve medicine communication/reduce medication errors." National Council on Patient Information and Education. October, 2006.
  • National Academy of Sciences. "Preventing Medication Errors." Washington: National Academies Press. 2006.
  • Committee on Identifying and Preventing Medication Errors, Institute of Medicine. "Preventing Medication Errors Quality Chasm Series."

 

Published September 30, 2006
Teri Robert

 

 
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 The American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA)...

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other headache disorders and their family, friends, and care partners.
Anyone interested in the concerns or patients with these disorders is welcome to join.

The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.

www.ahma.ws


 

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