Patient Guide

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Medication Safety

As a patient or family member, you are a vital part of the healthcare team. You can ensure a safer experience by being involved in and informed about your treatment and medications. This requires continuous learning and constant communication between you and your caregivers. Your pharmacist is available to help provide information. Here are things that you can do to ensure safe medication use for yourself and your family.

Keep a Medication List

You can help to prevent medication errors by providing a complete and up-to-date medication list to your healthcare providers.

Providing a current list allows your healthcare providers to compare any medications ordered for you to all of the medications that you have been taking. This is done to avoid medication errors such as omissions, duplications, dosing errors or drug interactions. Bring this to your first appointment.

Other Steps You Can Take To Prevent Medication Errors

  • Read the label on your prescription medicine. Make sure it has your name on it and the correct medicine name. Some medicines have similar names that can be confused.
  • Ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse how a new medicine will help. Ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Ask about the possible side effects of your medicines.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you think you are about to get the wrong medicine.
  • Tell your nurse or doctor if you don’t feel well after receiving a medicine. If you think you are having a reaction or experiencing side effects, ask for help immediately.
  • If you’re not feeling well enough to ask questions about your medicines, ask a relative or friend to ask questions for you and to help make sure you get and take the right medicines.
  • If you receive intravenous (IV) fluids, read the contents of the bags of IV fluids. If you’re not well enough to do this, ask a relative or friend to do it.
  • Before you leave the hospital or clinic, make sure that you understand all of the instructions for the medicines you will need to keep taking, and ask any questions you may have about any of your medicines.

The tips above are from the Joint Commission Web site. You can find more information through the patient-safety resources page.