There are literally thousands of different medicines on the market being prescribed every day. It is no wonder, then, that unwanted and adverse drug interactions have the potential to be one of the most dangerous areas of modern health care delivery.
Did you know that just being a patient within the health care system in the United States subjects you to one of the leading causes of death in the nation, ranked right up there near cancer and heart disease? That’s right – being hospitalized, for example, can immediately raise a person’s risk of death, and drug interaction is one of the reasons for that shocking statistic.
For that reason, it is critical that you take special precautions to ensure the best practices of medication reconciliation.
How to Improve Medication Reconciliation
- Always request an up-to-date and complete list of each patient’s current medications and specific dosages.
- The list should not just include prescribed drugs but also over-the-counter medications and supplements like vitamins, supplements, and herbs.
- Also obtain records regarding any allergies or sensitivities to medicines that they may have.
When recommending or prescribing any medications make sure that you reconcile those against these patient lists, and take care to be alert to any potential there may be for a mixture of medications to create an adverse chemical reaction. If those overseeing the patient’s care change or the patient is transferred to another health care provider, make sure that the new caregivers receive full documentation.
Upon discharge, provide the patient with a newly revised list of their medications. If they have other caregivers – for example, if they are a child whose parents will administer the medications – be sure that you communicate to those authorized parties as well to ensure a seamless and healthy transition. Be sure to ask if the patient or legal caregiver has any questions about how often they need to take their medications, the dosages, and any other guidance (such as the need to take meds with meals) so that there is a risk-controlled and well-informed continuum of care.