It’s All About The Meds

Prevent Medication Errors

by Kim Keller

If you were to listen in on some of the conversations I’ve had with my sister Karen during the last 10 years, you might very well hear us talking about medications, and it would probably not be in a positive light.

The disenchantment began with our dad. As a result of having so many doctors contributing to his care, he was saddled with too many meds, some of which were ineffective and even unhealthy. Duplicative prescriptions, improper substances for patients over 65, too many adverse side effects, confusing dosage instructions . . . The list goes on and on.

Then, after Dad passed away, our mom’s health suffered (no surprise there, since she was Dad’s primary caregiver for so long) and the same kind of medication problems started cropping up. The lesson? Be ever vigilant about medication regimens.

Our latest concern is trying to limit the escalation of Mom’s prescription-drug intake. It’s a challenge to find the balance between the meds she really needs and the meds that are being casually prescribed to her.

In general, there are thirteen points we focus on:

  1. We keep updated list of all her medications — prescribed and over the counter, including vitamins, supplements and herbs. The list includes: (a) the name of the substance, (b) dosage instructions (for example, take one 10 mg pill before bed every night), (b) the reason for taking the medication (e.g., high blood pressure), (c) the start date of the regimen (say, August 2008), and (d) any special instructions (like, “take with food”). The main list also contains known allergies and/or drugs that have caused an adverse reaction.
  2. We review this updated medication list with all of her doctors, other medical professionals involved with her care, as well as with her pharmacist. Mom keeps her updated list in her day planner, which goes everywhere with her. Karen and I also have a copy, and we attach another copy to Mom’s refrigerator, so it can be easily found in case of emergency.
  3. Each time Mom visits a new doctor, or if she is entering a health facility, such as a hospital or rehab, she brings her medication list, along with all her actual medications. We’ve found that bringing her medications to these first visits is extremely valuable to the doctors and/or nurses reviewing her prescriptions.
  4. We pay special attention to the medications during all periods of transitions — to and from the hospital, rehab, doctor’s appointments, etc. In the hospital, especially, medications can get jostled, accidentally mixed up, and even switched around. Surgery often requires dramatic medication changes — certain meds can be eliminated before surgery, others are added (painkillers, of course), and then a whole new regimen may be started after surgery, depending on the nature of the operation. We remain watchful and diligent, asking questions at each transition. A good medical team appreciates this kind of attentiveness.
  5. When entering a new facility, such as a hospital or rehab, we make sure to doublecheck Mom’s wristband to confirm the accuracy of her name and birthdate, and we insist that the nursing staff asks Mom for her name and birthdate before administering any meds. Usually a nurse will tell you what each med is and what it’s for, but, if the nurse fails to do so, we make sure to ask.
  6. When a loved one is in a care facility, like a rehab, we make sure that special instructions for all medications are assiduously followed. Our dad was in a rehab for several weeks after one of his hospital stays. He had been on the common blood thinner, Coumadin, for several years, a regimen that requires regular blood testing. During one of my visits, I happened to notice how unmarked his arms were (they were usually bruised from all the blood tests), and I came to discover that he hadn’t received any of his twice-weekly blood tests during the entire five weeks of his stay! Yikes! Now we make sure that special instructions, even those that seem so simple and routine, are always followed.
  7. If Mom has a new symptom of any kind — such as, dizziness, nausea, itchiness, depression — we first ask the doctor: Could it be a side effect of one of her other medications? And, quite often, the answer has been Yes! With this simple question, we’ve avoided the addition of another unnecessary med.
  8. When a doctor wants to prescribe a new medication, we ask this list of questions:
    (a) What specifically is this drug for? (b) What are the potential side effects? (c) Will this new drug interact properly with her other meds? (d) Is this drug absolutely necessary? (e) Can we try a change in diet or exercise first? (f) Is this drug safe and effective for someone over 65? (g) How long before the drug becomes effective? (h) How long do you anticipate Mom being on this drug? (i) Can you please spell the name of the drug for me to make sure the pharmacist is clear? (j) Are there any special instructions for taking this medication (such as take with food, always before bedtime, etc.)? and (k) What happens if Mom misses a dose?
  9. When it comes to gathering information, we do our own research. We use these two helpful and reliable websites: the Mayo Clinic  and MediGuard. The Mayo Clinic is a highly respected, world-famous medical facility in Rochester, MN — we use their website as our go-to resource for all medical research. We use MediGuard specifically for medication information. The website offers a very handy feature which allows you to plug in whatever medications you’re curious about. The tool synthesizes the information and responds with all critical data regarding potential adverse interactions for the substances you entered. This is a fabulously useful apparatus.
  10. We also check the Beers Criteria, which is a  list of medications that should not be prescribed to patients over the age of 65 because the drugs are either risky or not effective. Named after the late geriatrician Mark Beers, the primary purpose of the Beers Criteria is to guide healthcare professionals who are treating older adults.
  11. Mom doublechecks her medications whenever she picks them up from the pharmacist. Luckily, she has a wonderful pharmacist who is extremely diligent and often spots issues on her own. It’s important to confirm that the right prescription is being picked up and to read all of the enclosed information about each particular drug.
  12. Mom has a useful routine for taking her daily meds. Her vials are clearly labeled and kept organized in a logical fashion. At the start of each week, she puts the medications in a daily AM/PM dispenser, and she takes these pills with her breakfast and dinner. Her medications before bed are kept on her bedside table. The routine is particularly helpful in making sure she takes her medications properly and faithfully. Your loved one may need a more strictly controlled system for taking their meds — there are a variety of dispensing tools available. We’ve always liked the e-pill Medication Reminders. Take a look.
  13. Lastly, we try to maintain a persistent focus on limiting Mom’s medications only to those that are truly necessary. Easier said than done, of course, but a very worthwhile pursuit. Our society has gotten much too comfortable with popping a pill every time there’s the slightest problem. We would all be better off trying to limit that approach to healthcare.

Kim Keller is the Co-Founder of In Care of Dad. She lives and works in New York City.

 



39 Responses to “It’s All About The Meds”

  1. Buy Private proxies: BEST PRIVATE PROXIES – Top dogs top quality, Unlimited data transfer, 1000 mb/s superspeed, 99,9 uptime, Not consecutive IP’s, Very little utilization standards, A variety of subnets, USA as well as The european countries proxies – Pay for At this moment – DreamProxies.com

  2. I regard something really interesting about your web site so I saved to my bookmarks.

  3. I believe this site has got very superb composed content articles.

  4. Great post, you have pointed out some excellent details , I likewise conceive this s a very wonderful website.

  5. jordan shoes says:

    Thank you a lot for providing individuals with an extraordinarily remarkable possiblity to read in detail from this web site. It is always so fantastic and as well , stuffed with amusement for me and my office co-workers to visit the blog at the very least 3 times weekly to see the new tips you have. And definitely, we’re usually satisfied concerning the gorgeous strategies you give. Certain 1 tips in this article are really the most effective we have all had.

  6. My wife and i have been very comfortable when Michael could finish up his investigations through the entire precious recommendations he had out of your blog. It is now and again perplexing to just possibly be giving freely helpful tips that the others may have been trying to sell. So we grasp we’ve got the writer to thank because of that. These illustrations you have made, the easy site navigation, the friendships you aid to instill – it is many astounding, and it’s really making our son in addition to our family believe that this article is fun, which is truly indispensable. Thank you for all!

  7. bape says:

    I would like to voice my passion for your kindness supporting those individuals that actually need assistance with this important subject. Your personal dedication to passing the solution around had become remarkably interesting and has specifically empowered those just like me to arrive at their pursuits. Your new insightful key points can mean a whole lot to me and further more to my peers. Many thanks; from all of us.

  8. I have been checking out a few of your articles and i can claim clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your site.

  9. yeezy says:

    I wanted to send a small note to express gratitude to you for these nice concepts you are sharing here. My time intensive internet research has at the end of the day been honored with wonderful insight to share with my contacts. I would declare that most of us website visitors actually are unquestionably blessed to dwell in a great website with so many brilliant professionals with helpful tactics. I feel very privileged to have used your entire weblog and look forward to plenty of more thrilling moments reading here. Thanks once more for everything.

  10. I precisely wished to say thanks all over again. I do not know the things I would’ve taken care of without these aspects documented by you about such subject. This has been a depressing issue in my view, but coming across a specialized approach you treated it made me to cry for delight. I’m just grateful for this service and then believe you find out what an amazing job you’re getting into teaching others by way of your web blog. Most likely you haven’t met any of us.

  11. I wanted to construct a comment to be able to express gratitude to you for some of the wonderful concepts you are sharing on this website. My long internet look up has at the end of the day been recognized with reputable knowledge to write about with my two friends. I ‘d suppose that many of us visitors are very endowed to live in a superb community with very many outstanding people with beneficial points. I feel rather lucky to have used the webpages and look forward to some more thrilling minutes reading here. Thank you once again for all the details.

  12. Thanks a lot for providing individuals with an extraordinarily wonderful chance to read articles and blog posts from this site. It is often so pleasant and as well , packed with a lot of fun for me and my office acquaintances to visit your web site minimum 3 times per week to see the newest things you have got. Not to mention, we’re at all times pleased with your excellent tricks you serve. Selected 1 ideas in this post are rather the most suitable we have ever had.

  13. Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is actually annoying. A good website with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web-site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  14. I have to express some appreciation to this writer for rescuing me from such a setting. As a result of browsing through the world wide web and finding notions which were not beneficial, I thought my entire life was done. Living without the presence of solutions to the difficulties you’ve solved as a result of your short article is a critical case, and those which could have adversely damaged my entire career if I hadn’t come across your blog post. Your actual ability and kindness in touching all the details was vital. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I had not encountered such a stuff like this. I can also at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the high quality and result oriented guide. I won’t be reluctant to endorse your web page to any person who desires guide about this problem.

  15. air jordan 1 says:

    I precisely needed to appreciate you all over again. I’m not certain the things that I could possibly have undertaken without these smart ideas documented by you regarding that question. Previously it was a frustrating matter in my position, nevertheless looking at the very skilled strategy you solved that forced me to jump with contentment. I will be happy for your work and as well , trust you comprehend what a powerful job you were putting in instructing people through the use of your web blog. I’m certain you’ve never come across all of us.

  16. yeezy shoes says:

    I precisely needed to thank you very much all over again. I’m not certain the things that I might have sorted out in the absence of the entire pointers shown by you over my theme. It seemed to be a difficult scenario in my circumstances, but witnessing this specialized mode you resolved it took me to jump with gladness. I’m just happy for the work and as well , hope that you find out what a great job that you are carrying out teaching some other people thru your blog post. I’m certain you have never encountered all of us.

  17. hermes says:

    Thank you for all of your work on this web page. My mom take interest in participating in investigation and it’s really simple to grasp why. My partner and i notice all of the powerful means you provide functional solutions through the web blog and in addition attract response from other people on this point and our own simple princess is truly understanding a lot. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. You’re carrying out a glorious job.

  18. moncler says:

    Thank you for all your valuable labor on this site. Debby delights in participating in internet research and it is obvious why. Most people notice all relating to the powerful mode you convey worthwhile techniques via your website and as well boost contribution from some other people on that subject and our girl is always starting to learn a great deal. Have fun with the rest of the new year. Your doing a wonderful job.

  19. My wife and i have been glad that Raymond managed to deal with his survey via the ideas he got when using the weblog. It is now and again perplexing to just possibly be giving out key points that many a number of people could have been trying to sell. And now we do understand we have got the blog owner to be grateful to for this. These illustrations you made, the easy web site navigation, the friendships your site assist to create – it’s got all impressive, and it’s making our son in addition to the family know that that content is excellent, and that’s extremely mandatory. Thanks for everything!

  20. I truly wanted to write a brief note so as to say thanks to you for these fabulous steps you are sharing here. My considerable internet look up has at the end of the day been recognized with wonderful knowledge to share with my pals. I would say that most of us site visitors actually are definitely fortunate to live in a fine place with so many perfect individuals with very helpful secrets. I feel very blessed to have discovered the website and look forward to so many more entertaining minutes reading here. Thank you once more for everything.

  21. I and my guys have been looking through the great advice located on the blog and the sudden developed a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the site owner for those tips. Those men are already for this reason passionate to see them and have in effect extremely been having fun with them. Thanks for genuinely considerably considerate and also for having some quality ideas most people are really desirous to be aware of. My sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to earlier.

  22. I in addition to my friends were actually going through the good guides found on your web blog while instantly developed a horrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for those secrets. The young boys happened to be so excited to learn them and now have simply been using those things. Thank you for indeed being simply kind and then for getting some marvelous ideas millions of individuals are really desirous to discover. Our sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

Leave a Reply