Medications are involved in 80 percent of all treatments and can potentially affect every aspect of a patient’s life. Each year, over one million Americans experience a health problem because they do not take their medicine as their doctor prescribed. To help improve this problem, hospitals are providing additional patient education through medication management. Medication management is the effective use of medications by optimizing safe, educational and appropriate use. Studies show it can reduce 60 percent of hospital readmissions that relate to misuse, as well as help to improve patient satisfaction.
The transition from hospital to home may cause confusion for a patient as there are many things to consider. For example, will there now be any type of a medication change? Is there a clear understanding of which medications to take, how often, and for how long? The most common reasons patients fail to take their medication properly is forgetfulness, unwanted side effects, the medications themselves are too expensive, or they experience difficulties with getting a prescription filled. The consequences to any of these can be potentially harmful, or even fatal. A medication management plan is not only necessary to have in place, but also needs to involve clear communication with all parties involved, including the patient, the doctor and the pharmacist. By working together, they will help oversee prescriptions and answer any questions that may arise.
Tips to help patients manage their medications:
1) Be informed about all medications
Make sure the pharmacy label says why the patient needs this medication, what the medication is for and the proper way to administer it. Keep an up-to-date list of all medications. Include the drug name, dosage, frequency and diagnosis.
2) Ask the pharmacist questions
A pharmacist is a great resource for any concerns regarding the combination of medications prescribed. The pharmacist can also keep track of all medications and check for drug interactions among them.
3) Store all medicines safely
Keeping track of all medicines is very important. Develop a schedule for taking medications and stick to it as some require a certain time or with meals. Keep medicine where you are likely to see them every day using an organizer, or pill box, to make a regimen easier to follow. Always go through the medicine cabinet regularly and discard any expired medications.
4) Watch for side effects
Ask the pharmacist what side effects may occur with each of the medications prescribed and learn what to do to avoid them. Knowing the potential side effects can help create awareness to any changes that may occur in response to a new or combination of medications. Communicate with a provider all unwanted reactions to any medications and they will adjust the dose accordingly.